Yvonne Whitty - Horizon Searching

Tuesday 1st July 2003
Yvonne Whitty - Horizon Searching
Yvonne Whitty - Horizon Searching

RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Independent

Reviewed by Dougie Adam

The chances are that the name will be unfamiliar to most CR readers even though Yvonne has been around the Scottish Christian music scene for a few years. To date her distinctive voice has graced albums by Land, Celtic Praise, Satellite and Stephen Fischbacher. A few years ago she started playing some low key solo gigs in Glasgow’s Chapter House café and progressed to a number of celebrated performances at Edinburgh’s Acoustic Café and word about her voice and songwriting spread rapidly to the extent that by the time this debut release went on sale in the local Wesley Owen store it was outselling everything in sight including the latest album by Amy Grant. So why all the fuss? Once you’ve heard Yvonne sing you recognise her voice anywhere even if she is only doing backing vocals on someone else’s album. For the uninitiated it is somewhere between Iona’s Joanne Hogg and Deacon Blue’s Lorraine McIntosh (without the woo-oohs). Added to this Miss Whitty is no mean guitar player and also a talented pianist. And if this isn’t enough already, this collection demonstrates that perhaps her greatest gift could yet be as a songwriter. From beginning to end melodic and graceful tunes find themselves woven together with lyrics which exhibit a wisdom beyond Yvonne’s years while the musicians and production team almost always perfectly capture the vast range and moods and emotions contained in the songs. Because the lyrics concisely and memorably deal with an impressive range of issues and events there is no space for detail here. But just for starters we have a wide-eyed student walking home past the impressive Georgian townhouses in Glasgow’s West End lusting after life in all its fullness in one song then wrestling with the forces of depression and emptiness in another before morphing once more into a jaded Christian looking wistfully back to the early days of her brand new life changing faith and then finding time amid the confusion to celebrate the depth, strength and length of God’s love. Jesus may rarely be mentioned by name but is present everywhere in the songs and in Yvonne’s own worldview. On “Come”, perhaps the most remarkable song on the album, Christ’s words to the weary and heavy laden form the refrain as Yvonne reflects on her gran’s death and all that her gran meant and passed on to her. In places the songs sound like radio-friendly pop, well crafted and hook-laden rock, elsewhere they are introspective and acoustic while the gospel-tinged “Psalm 62” brings the album to a worshipful conclusion. My solitary criticism is that to these ears at least the album loses its way slightly in the middle with the production perhaps striving too hard to sound contemporary and a bit different from the mood of the rest of the album. This results in “The Best In Me” and “Gracious Uncertainty” getting trampled in the process as songs. Then again maybe I am being too precious about their early acoustic live arrangements. ‘Horizon Searching’ is easily one of the most exciting albums I’ve heard in years because of its merits in its own right and also because it announces the arrival of a talented new kid of the block. Yvonne and this album deserve to reach a wider audience.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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