HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR!
JESUS MUSIC AND BEYOND
ADELE AND ENYA GET THE LOOK OVER
Adele and Enya - both produce fine new albums, even if the two hardly play at being adventuresome. They venture only a small journey from the mood of their previous albums.
Adele on her album 25 (Columbia).still wants to tear our hearts apart as she tells of her own misery and so bring into play what might be termed “shared pain.” I notice one reviewer of Adele’s work terms her the “real deal, she feels what you feel.” It might be hoped she could have some inner joy since the debut album that made her into a star overnight. On the other hand she might love to dwell on sad and destructive personal times, but sometime you have to emerge from the rain into sunshine.
Enya is the great reflective, as she mulls and thinks on life in general ad the life that is hers.
She talks of storms without a name, of clouds that fade away as she takes us through the first track ‘The Humming.’ I confess I simply love this set and have been playing it a great deal
On the lovely Shepherd Moons she served up several religious pieces including the delightful previously ignored Sankey collection song ‘How can I stop from Singing’ and here there is the spellbinding ‘Sancta Maria’ that shouts for dance movement and with a Celtic Irish strain there’s ‘Echoes in Rain’ with a shout many times of ‘Alleluia’ for a new day and life itself. Her Catholic upbringing brings us into the beautiful ‘The Forge of the Angels’ with its opening line “Always wondering what came before the beginning.’. The music arrangement, the atmosphere on this track is really something.
I confess with Adele I hear an astonishing voice
But do not want to travel with her, whereas with Enya, where sound travels are so important, I feel I can walk long journeys and learn something of her soul and its earnings. Whether it’s Enya or producer I do not know, but she has the classic knack of marrying one track into another, subtly varying pace and introducing new instruments into the overall mix. So yes, I would risk a dance with Enya, as for Adele, it might be hard work.
Clive Marsh and Vaughan S Roberts in their book Personal Jesus (Baker Academic) strongly suggest much can be gained by groups discussing particular record releases and a ‘take’ of these two could be stimulating. It would be surprising if some has not purchased either. Certainly enough themes are thrown up to be viewed within a Christian understanding of life and living. Meantime Adele’s sales are simply gob-smacking, as for instance in the US in one week she sold over a million copies of the single off the album ‘Hello’’
It’s the jazz album for Christmas 2015. There have been some beautiful festive sets in the past and Believe from the David Benoit Trio featuring the evocative voice of Jane Monheit and the All-American Boys Corus (Concordmusic) rides well with them. It swings and dances its way through a set of songs that either pitch in with the festive side of things or travels for something somewhat deeper than say hearing the admittedly captivating opening track ‘ Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.. This opening cut swings, as indeed the infectious ‘Guaraldi Medley.’ with its drums and double bass before the piano picks up the tune. ‘My Little Drum’ plays around the popular Little Drummer Boy. The album concludes with a song Americans love – ‘Christmas Song’ that has a lyric talking of chestnuts, turkey, reindeer and carols. It’s a slow reflective style composition and the bios here, as elsewhere add that extra vocal colour on what in old pop style form is a track less than 2:40 in length. Benoit plays piano and it’s always powerfully present. Play this a few times and you’re hooked!
Should you want an infectious jazz reworking of familiar hymns and carols then chase after Geri Allen’s, A Child is Born. She serves up fiery fare as she takes the known apart and reconstructs without actually making you wonder if you are hearing a new composition. Among the established given a new look there’s ‘We Three Kings,’ Angels We Have Heard on High’ ‘0 Come,0 Come Emmanuel’ and ‘It Came Upon The Midnight Clear’ and also included ‘Let is Break bread together’ and ‘Amazing Grace.’ Truly top class.
I sometimes wonder how major artists of times past think on seeing their once heralded gems now selling for less than five pounds on supermarket shelves. Not that it really bothers me personally, if you get the drift. Sainsburys in particular have been filling their shelves with many a great set, and my pick up this month has been Seal and Best 1 1991-2004 (Warner) that has included in the listing the fine compositions ‘Prayer for the Dying’ and ‘Love’s Divine.’ You can also find a really good take of the Steve Miller associated song ‘Fly Like An Angel.’ And to my surprise you can even find one of music’s greatest sets – namely the Lauryn Hill album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Her strong Christian sentiments can be found on a release that astonishingly was issued 17 years ago The album sold 7.3 million! These days a mother of six the former Fugees singer-songwriter makes only brief excursions into music land – something great has been lost.
JOOLS HOLLAND AND RUBY TURNER
So little live music on the BBC – sadly. At least, every now and then there’s Later....with Jools Holland, but transmitted late in the evening.
Blackheath, London, 1958 born Julian Miles Holland is a pianist, bandleader, singer, composer, television presenter. He was a founder-member of British band, The Squeeze, and can add to his credits that of being an honorary fellow of Canterbury Christ Church. 0ften Jools and his band hit the road, and taking along for vocals the superb Jamaican soul singer, songwriter and actress Ruby Turner. Viewers of the television series will know that the gorgeous Jamaican singer has a spot every now and then on the successful TV show; so in a way no surprise that there’s the new album ‘bringing the two together. The result is a sparkling and immensely enjoyable Jools & Ruby and the Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.(EW label).’ The quality never disappears on a track listing that is intelligently compiled for maximum effect in tempo and feel.
Assuming you are familiar with Holland’s often gospel- ish feel on piano, you will not be surprised that along with some fast-paced rock’n’roll, and moving general ballads, and a seasonal offering with a musically brass coloured ‘Christmas Song’’ there’s more than a handful of gospel songs on a generous 22 track album. Still, n o surprise here - Ms Turner has a long history of gospel singing, and come to that a lengthy CV of her own, and for anyone with longevity she sang the National Anthem on Mew Year’s Eve 1999 for the Queen, Tony Blair and other dignitaries at the opening of the Millennium Dome. Take time to Google and you may be, yes, surprised. Boy, she can sing. In a number of musical styles, always with convincing authority. She powers her way.
The album kicks off with the much recorded religious classic ‘Peace in the Valley’ and ends with the revered and moving gospel-blues song, ‘Precious Lord.’ ‘This Train; is another classic with its lyric cry to people to find Jesus and get on the gospel train before one’s earthly end arrives. In the gospel mould there’s also ‘Get Away Jordan ‘ with back-up vocals, and the driving energetic vocals of Ruby. This one builds and builds with `Jools allowing himself a few piano swirls. The lyric expresses a desire at one end to cross the Jordan and meet the Lord.
‘I Still Went Wrong’ is a song of contrition and set to a basic demanding beat . The close correlation of other musical rhythms with gospel is clearly in evidence on the last track but one, whether in rhythmic feel but also in then shout response of the backup singers. And so that brings me back to the wonderful emotive song ‘Precious Lord.” This is taken fairly straight rather than say given a reworking. She takes it initially slow and reflective, as she makes you feel the lyric that is a cry for the presence of the Lord and help during difficult times, and yes, when life appears to be ebbing away. ‘Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home’ is the cry.
Should you want more of the “gospel’ Ruby then obtain albums such as All That I Am, released late summer 2014, and Women Hold Up Half The Sky. Then again, travel to YouTube and hear and see Ruby delivering “This Train.’
Both these reviews first appeared in The Methodist Recorder.
CHRISTMAS TIME MUSINGS
Seemingly everywhere I go, I hear Slade and Merry Xmas. Noddy and the boys are hopefully bringing in the shekels. Not so much this heard – the classic Pogues, Fairytale in New York. Come to that a pity the Lennon-Yoko, Happy Xmas War is Over is not heard, although it might sound somewhat out of kilter in view of the Middle East and beyond, but then the lyric is about no war – come in Jeremy C and the followers who want something more direct than the menu of DC.. Lennon of course was clever by not using the compound of Christ and Mass, he seeming to have not much truck with Christian things.
Maybe I am not listening but has anyone got a new Christmas song for 2015? To my right is a veritable pile of books waiting to be read, come to that, magazines. Mentioning magazines any views on the new look freebie New Musical Express? My mates give it the thumbs down. Maybe it’s still finding its new style direction, as it now mixes music with yes, style. Of course it’s not easy to find it unless you have an HMV or live in London. For me, recent London visits on a Friday mean I can find a copy. Don West we have rain and rain and if we moan it has to be said or we should remind ourselves that in some parts of the world even an hour or less would be greeted with joy. My friend actress and coach Linda` Slade is going strong with various courses and you should google her and see if it suits you. Another friend of mine Juliet Lawson has a new EP, Never Went Away. She is one of Britain’s most underestimated artists, writes great songs and hey, she should be heard and heard. Doubtless she should be American or even Canadian and then the media people would pick up on her.
HAVE A GOOD ONE! And as the old Radio London commercial said “Go to the church of your choice! – remember the WHO included it on their great Sell Out album, if I remember the title correctly! – long time back!
Garth Hewitt Foundation — from Garth
Little Boy Down, performing at St Peter & St Paul Church, Reepham, Lincolnshire, 2nd December 2015
We thought you should be the first to see this video of Garth's new song 'Little Boy Down' - the song isn't recorded anywhere yet but we caught this almost complete clip of Garth's second performance of it - he sang it first in Eastbourne on November 13th; this is at his Lincoln concert on 2nd December.
One or two more clips from Garth's Lincoln concert will appear online over the next few weeks - if you subscribe to Garth's youtube channel you will receive notifications whenever he puts up a new video - click the button to subscribe
The Garth Hewitt Foundation
The Garth Hewitt Foundation exists to support Garth's music, writing and recording, and to help rerelease his early material and resources, much of which has been unavailable until recently. Garth's 2014 album 'Something for the Soul'was the result of collaboration between the Garth Hewitt Foundation and GingerDog Records.
BIG NEWS for those of you who have been in touch with us asking when Garth's very earliest albums will be re-released - they are now here from GingerDog Records where you can either download them, or order them as CDs
Some of these albums are not yet available generally but for readers of Garth's newsletter, GingerDog Records are offering them via this link
And lastly, a reminder that bookings are now being taken for Garth’s 2016 Strange Weapons Tour - contact email@example.com if you’d like to host a concert or for more information on what’s involved