with Karl Scott, Dave Atherall, Ed Green, Matt Sweetman
Fresh, confident, personal, uneven, strange in places,
bright, power-mastered and unpredicable.
Apart from that, this disc by members of my home church (in fact, mostly
ex-members of the youth groups of my home church) is an aural feast of
worship (How Great?), nonsense (Fish) and wonderfully
compulsive controversy (The Open Door).
Adam Jarvis (former keysman for Paul Oakley, who has for some reason dropped
keys altogether recently) is the driving force, and his skills in playing
and producing are all over the disc, the title of which apparently means
‘to jointly bear witness’. The eye-straining sleeve notes
describe some of the convoluted creativity which has been required to
reach this point. Credits to bands such as Ape, Bungle and Yellow Ribbon
fall among comments about dreams, visions and impact, which lend gravity
to the selection of songs.
The remarkable nonsense that is Fish is a surprisingly tender
love song about meeting and wooing a girl who turns into a fish, contributed
by the ever-dependable but never-predictable Dave Atherall. Love for the
silvery denison of the deep turns to hate when spurned, and the song turns
to aggression. It doesn’t belong on a worship album, but on this
album, which may not comfortably fit into the bog-standard worship album
category, it sits very well as light relief.
I first heard The Open Door live at a youth meeting in the church,
and I was immediately struck by the overall sound, the passion and the
attempt at writing an allegorical song for use in worship. No Bible quotes
here, just allusions to Bible images (knocking, prisons, shoes).
Best line of the whole album (probably one of the top ten best lines of
the worship output of our church): I was born in jail /Jesus came
and paid my bail. Okay, the theology has gaps through which you could
handbrake-turn a double-decker bus, but the immediacy and wonder forgive
the multitude of sins. Jesus has taken the penalty for us, and that’s
why we are no longer in prison. Okay, I know bail simply releases a prisoner
pending trial, but the point is freedom.
And then it gets controversial. I have got the shoes I need/The Holy
Spirit is my speed. Now, in the simple, old-fashioned sense of Godspeed,
this is fine. But probably listeners of this CD will first think this
reference is to recreational drugs. Unfortunate, at least. Provocative?
Accidental, I suggest. Blasphemy? I think not. In a way, the Holy Spirit
provides similar energy and motive to lethargic, unathletic runners of
Get the album, see what you think, remember the fuss about Great,
great, brill, brill, wicked, wicked, skill, skill. If you are long
enough in the tooth, you’ll remember the fuss about And in your
presence, our problems disappear, which was really just a question
of degree. While we must be wise to protect truth and state it clearly,
we must also relax a little and hear the heart of a young man deeply thrilled
about being set free and being motivated.