Never for Nothing - CCM Record Reviews archive L

LA RUE : La Rue. (Reunion : 02341 0039 2).
La Rue are brother and sister Phillip and Natalie, aged 17 and 15 respectively. And, despite, their tender years, they have - in my humble opinion - produced one superb pop album. With songs written from their own teen hearts it would be easy to say that the album will only appeal to a similar age range. However, that is most certainly not the case, here. To pick out one song that stands out would be very difficult but, "Fallen King" would just get the vote from me. Reminiscent of Sixpence's "Kiss Me", it has few words but a chorus that rings around your head for days. "Someday" sounds a little like Out of the Grey, and "Waiting Room" only confirmed this feeling. It's a beautiful song and the vocals just melt together so well. Are you a Christian just on a Sunday?". Well, that's what the song "One Day of the Week" asks and, if that's you, be sure that God knows your true heart. Brilliant album. 10/10. (March 2000, Album of the Month)
LA RUE : Transparent. (Reunion : 0234100682)
What made La Rue's self titled debut release the NFN 2000 CCM Album of the Year was it's wonderful lyrical depth, portrayed by two teenagers in an infectious pop style. With this follow up, brother and sister - Phillip & Natalie - show that they've been influenced by an edgier guitar style of indie rock.. Indeed, "Wake up" wouldn't have been out of place on the current All Star United Greatest Hits album. Later on, "I Can't Sing" falls into the same category. The writing, however, has remained the same and "Jaded" is written straight from how two teenagers can feel with life. "Brianna's Song" is a piano led duet while the pick of the bunch, for me, is "No Goodbyes". On this track, Natalie takes the lead vocals while Phillip adds effective backing for a very radio friendly song. Their debut was an instant hit with me, while this one will have to grow. 8/10. (April 2001)
LABA PRAISE : The Gratified EP. (
Laba Praise is a Nigerian Gospel Minister & singer. “The Gratified” is a 5 track EP that was birthed from a heart of gratitude that has been under the influence of God’s supernatural providence, Guardians, protection and supply. There’s a bouncy beginning with the song ‘Overcomer.’ The style is afro-pop, while the lyrics include; “’Cos’ Ive got Jesus; He lives in me; I am a winner.” The following ‘Great and Mighty King’ is another song of worship but, this time, in more mellow tones. Indeed, I much preferred Laba Praise’s vocals in this one, compared to the first. ‘My Desire’ is a very atmospheric song, which lasts for nearly 7 minutes. The problem I have with it, is that neither the melody or backing ever seems to change. The result is quite an uninspiring song. I did wonder if it was recorded during a time of spontaneous worship, but remain undecided. ‘Come Let’s Celebrate’ sees the singer get things just right, with an uptempo delivery of this praise song. Finally, we come to ‘Emmanuel.’ A shuffling rhythm comes to life when Laba raises her voice for a touching chorus that lifts Jesus high in praise. The closing guitar and brass sounds are fairly awful and what was a promising song becomes rather annoying to the ears. Another thing that I noted throughout the EP was the rather thin sound from the backing singers. Better production would make this a more creditable release, as there’s certainly some good ideas from Laba Praise. 5/10. (June 2022)
LACEY STURM : Awaken Love. (
Former Flyleaf singer, Lucy Sturm wrote this song with Skillet’s Korey Cooper. It’s a string-driven ballad that explores what it feels like to be immersed in the transcendent experience of perfect love. From the violin led introduction, Lacey’s thin, but engaging, vocals grip your attention. Crashing guitars and percussion add the Evanescence type power and lifts the song another notch, as Lacey’s voice reach their best. I loved the mix of instruments used, and the overall sound of the song really touched me. If I wasn’t hooked by then, the music video made my mind up completely to give ‘Awaken Love’ 10/10. (February 2022, Record of the Month)
LADY JOY FAVOURED : Ese-Imela. (Maxuron Records)
This Ontario-based Gospel music minister says; “The song “Ese-Imela” is birthed from a place of profound worship and embodies areas that God has shown His mercy on daily basis. Anyone who understands what it means to praise God in contrite devotion, will accept this song wholeheartedly.” Only some percussion and a choir back this release. With some simple phases thanking God for all He has done, Lady Joy makes her way through this song with vocals that, at times, are really good but, at others, struggle to keep in tune. In all honesty, the track limps along for over 5 minutes, with little impact at all. 3/10. (May 2020)
LAKEWOOD LIVE : Cover the Earth. (Integrity : 27822)
Now, I remember Cindy Cruse Ratcliff in the days that she was promoted as a Christian "rock chick", and still possess the album to prove it. For whatever reason, Cindy has since been led into leading worship all over America, and her soulful voice seems to suit the genre well. Here, she's joined by Israel Houghton, as well as the Lakewood Church Choir for more than 70 minutes of powerful praise & worship. Both the title track and "Sweeter" are outstanding tracks, and I can see the latter featuring well on radio. What comes across to the listener is the great feeling of togetherness of those gathered, and it's most certainly not a Cindy and Israel performance. "Holy You Are" is another striking number, while "I'll Never Stop Loving You" tones things down a bit for lovely harmonies. The sleeve notes say that 30,000 people attend Lakewood Church, Houston, each week. Obviously, this album reflects just what's happening. 8/10. (March 2004)
LAMAR CAMPBELL & SPIRIT OF PRAISE : The Praise Collection. (EMI Gospel : DPRO17072)
Talk to me about Kirk Franklin, and I know who you're talking about. But, mention the name of Lamar Campbell and I would have asked "Who?". That is, until this CD appeared. This release is a collection of songs from his three previous albums, plus three brand new songs, thrown in for good measure. Out of those new songs "Whatcha Here 4?" is probably the best, in a sort of gospel meets hip hop sort of way. The opening "Just For Who You Are" threw me a little as it does sound like a female voice taking the lead. Whoever he/she is, they have a real quality vocal, although not quite as seasoned as, say, Shirley Caeser. The who album is very much in the modern gospel sound, although "It's All About the Love of Jesus" does sound like an old fashioned number that's had an uptempo beat put to it. "I Really Want to See you Now" is a laid back song that has some really sweet harmonies, while "When I Think About You" comes across stronlgy, especially with it's opening brass section. If I was to stick my neck out here, I would say that this track would do well if released in the UK as a single - it's that strong. Lamar campbell gets a little carried away towards the end of the track listing with some obligatory hollering but, on the whole, he's impressed me. Check it out. 8/10 (April 2002)
LANRE SHEDOWO : Unchanging God. (
Lanre is a gospel singer with a great passion for Evangelism, bringing the lost souls back to Christ through the worship ministry. She says; “This album is about presenting the gospel.” As there are only 5 tracks, it’s more of an EP than an album. However, it bursts into life with the guitar led ‘Holy is the Lord.’ Lanre shows from the off, that she has a big voice, and is joined by great backing vocals on this track. ‘Emi Mimo’ is a song about inviting God into your life. It’s a quieter number which I believe is sung in a Nigerian dialect. Thankfully, for me, ‘I Give You All’ is back to the English language, and is a song of commitment and praise to God. Once more, the backing vocals add a certain something with this light, afro-pop number. Sharing the vocals on ‘Yaweh is Your Name’ is Rebecca Miya. The song shuffles along but the vocals almost disappear at one point. When they do return, there are times when I’m beaten by not being offered a translation to the lyrics. Finally, we come to ‘You Are Good and Kind.’ That afro-pop beat is back, on a song that is simply praise and worship. The vocals are a mix of languages once more, but the overall sound is very enjoyable. Certainly, Lanre exhibits a decent vocal quality and, despite my misgivings about the English and/or Nigerian lyrics, the result is quite pleasing. 6/10. (August 2022)
LARA MARTIN : The Voice Of Hope - The Very Best Of... (Kingsway : KMCD3083)
I've heard several tracks by Lara on worship compilation CD's, although none of them are on this album strangely enough. It's a fairly pleasant mix of contemporary worship songs delivered in a fairly straightforward pop style. The title track stands out, as does "Incredible" and "I will bless The Lord at all times" but, to be honest, there's not really a bad track on this CD. It is a double album, with twenty eight tracks, so it's probably a bit tedious to listen to the whole thing in one sitting, but then that applies to most double albums in my experience, you can stick it on in the background though and get on with something else while you listen, and it works fine. All in all I think that this CD is a good mix of songs, and if you don't own anything else by Lara, then it's definitely worth getting hold of a copy. 9/10 Andy Sayner. (November 2010)
LARRY FORD : Peace Be Still. (Heartbeat Music : 1902482).
American born Larry Ford is, as the sleeve notes say, an "adopted Irishman" because of his long association with the emerald isle. As one of gospel music's finest tenor's, Larry will be mostly appreciated by the older generation. His finely honed vocals take you through a trip of well known songs, mixed with one or two lesser known. The backing music is nothing out of the ordinary but compliments the singer, bringing out his finer points. Classic hymns include "O For A Closer Walk With God", "I Cannot Tell" and "Praise Him, Praise Him", while more contemporary songs like Stuart Townend's "How Deep the Father's Love" and Andy Park's "Down the Mountain" also make an appearance. The nearest comparison I can make would be Harry Secombe meets Daniel O'Donnell and, while not really my cup of tea, I can still appreciate a good album. 7/10. (February 2002)
LAST BEACON : First Light. (Private Cassette Recording £2.20 from: Jon Gurr, 7 Stonelea Drive, Rastrick, Brighouse, Huddersfield, HD6 3PT).
Only two tracks on this cassingle from a band based in West Yorkshire. Recorded, presumably, on a limited budget, the finished sound could have been better. However, the first song ,'Run', is a mixture of Brit pop meets Runrig. "Waiting at the bus stop of my life" is the songs first line and gives you some idea of the lyrical content as a whole. Some, might say that the words are rather weak but I, personally found them oozing with honesty. Some good guitar work, interesting break, and never mind the robotic drummer. Track two 'Holy Day' is a quieter song and lacks any real impact. Although the guys do try with their harmonies, it just doesn't quite happen and, perhaps, it's one to work on. With so little to go on, it's hard to give a wider view of the band but with such a catchy song as 'Run' in their repertoire, (I've been singing it for days now) there's sure something worth listening to. 6/10. (November 1997)
LAST MAN OUT : All or Nothing. (CD from
I've been waiting for an album like this for ages. Why? Well, I just wanted a new grass roots UK band to produce a guitar driven sound that would get me excited. Last Man Out are based in Scotland and this debut release leaps from your speakers with some really tasty sounds. At times they remind me a little of Kato, especially on the opening "Great & Glorious", but Pete Chalks lead vocals can also be a bit Jon Bon Jovi too. The songs are full of simple truths and the result is an album of praise and worship rock. Backing vocals are supplied by Susie Allan - who also plays keyboard - and they work really well with Chalk's lead. "Everything" has those good driving guitars forcing it's way through and "SOS" shows that Allan can also take over the lead vocals with confidence. "Fly" is a slower number but one of quality, while "Saved", "Only You", and "Yours" get things rocking again. I really enjoyed the overall sound of the band as the instruments seemed to gel instantly. It sounds as if a lot of time has gone into the production of this album and, if so, the time has been well worth it. 9/10. (October 2005)
LAST OF THE SPOKEN : Ocean of Dreams.   (
Amanda Roche (aka Last of the Spoken) describes herself as a singer, songwriter, artist & content creator, and is based in Stoke-on-Trent. How refreshing it is when new artists like Amanda release songs that immediately make you sit up and take note. A medium paced number, with electro music backing and chorus that buzzed around my head all day. It begins with the lyrics: “Oh what a feeling, now that I’m healing. Something changed in me, I’m awake and free.” I just felt that the whole thing was captivating, backed by some equally well thought out verses. More please Amanda!   9/10. (February 2020)
LAST OF THE SPOKEN : Faith.Science.Dreams.Romance. (
Last of The Spoken is Amanda Roche, who won the Faith category of the UK Songwriting Contest in 2019. I accessed this album via Spotify, which has it listed as “radio edit”, so I hope I’m not missing anything! It certainly kicks off with a very radio-friendly title track and doesn’t let up (aside from “Take On The World”, which I felt was the weakest of the 7 tracks). The album has a tonal familiarity to it, with a “can’t quite place it” originality. It has shades of Hillsongs more up-tempo stuff, swirly poppy keyboards, Delirious/U2/Coldplay-style guitars, solid if unadventurous bass and drums, a vocal that is fighting a little to be heard but always winning. The overall feel is 90s pop/dance/punk, befitting the assistance she had from Stuart Epps, who produced Robbie Williams’ “I’ve Been Expecting You”. It’s kind of a cross between him and early Avril Lavigne overall and the more I listened the more I felt it tipping towards Avril. As you may expect, given the songwriting contest category, the faith element is very strong in the lyrics, but Amanda has a very different background to place it in, having bouts of homelessness and is very open about her mental health struggles which Jesus has brought her through. This is a very powerful, well-written and well-presented set of songs. More please! Best track: Own It. 8/10 Paul Ganney. (December 2020)
LATE LATE SERVICE : Deep Peace. (Sticky Music : GUMCD35).
If the infamous 9 O'clock Service highlighted the down side to Alternative services, then the LLS must take some credit for it's continued, powerful ministry. 77 minutes worth of sound, that has been split into 3 sections. SONGS doesn't start off too well but "Visions of Heaven" begins the true worship of God's love for us. "Heal Me", certainly helped me re-focus, and the word 'peace' washed over me as I listened to "Young Men..." and it's calming influences. PSALMS contains 3 new settings to Psalms 116, 1, and 86. "Breathing fresh life...into these venerable texts", states the information sheet. Unfortunately, I personally believe 116 is in need of oxygen. It's difficult to please the listener/worshiper all of the time and the other two tracks have some excellent harmonies - of which one sounds suspiciously like Prelude's 'After the Goldrush'. The final section is classed as MEDITATION and, although I found "Into Darkness" rather uninspiring, the epic lengths of "Lament" and "Susan's Meditational Music" were, once again, very helpful. The latter, 13 minutes of quiet, repetitive piano music, is just so soothing. One recent review said of this album "Like a blood transfusion for it and be inspired". In medical terms, I'd say it was a tonic for the tired Christian, and should be taken daily. 8/10. (December 1997)
LATE LATE SERVICE : Project Reformation/Dry Bones Dancing. (Maranatha/Word : 7016363848).
Performed by former members of Prayer Chain and Violet Burning, as well as Chris Lizotte, this is an alternative worship experience for today's generation. In the old cliche of it being a soccer match, then the second half of the album is better than the first. All too often, the songs just sound like a Lizotte solo, due to his production work. Jaime Eichler provides the half time refreshment, a beautiful song - written by Lizotte - sang with such feeling. 'Prepare the Way' reminded me a lot of Noel Richard's, complete with it's stirring guitars and easily picked up chorus. The crowning glory for the album is the closing "He Knows My Name", just simply oozing with worship. What a pity that the classy stuff is outnumbered by the rest. 6/10. (April 1998)
LaTOCHA : The Invitation: A Conversation With God. (Capitol CMG)
On the R&B music scene as a singer and songwriter for three decades and most notably as a founding member of Xscape with her sister Tamika, LaTocha Scott rose to popularity in the 1990s with more than 9 million record sales worldwide. Born in Atlanta, Georgia to Rev Randolph Scott and teacher mother Gloria, at 6 years old she sang in church and at 11 recorded her first song with sister Tamika. With a sibling fall-out currently reverberating around social media however, here we have LaTocha delivering this solo gospel album, saying “It has always been a passion of mine to do inspirational music. It has been my foundation, and that is very evident, even when I sing R&B music.” Said to “speak to the highs, lows, and in-betweens of life”, the eleven tracks of well-produced gospel soul begin with the short spoken 'The conversation', leading into the almost as brief title track inviting us to the rest of the album. It is only when we reach slow third track 'Afraid' that things really begin. The upbeat/backbeat 'Free me' (“Lord free me”) comes next and is one of my standouts – although beginning a pattern of even 'full length' tracks tending to end before being allowed to develop fully. 'Turn it all around' comes next, and is particularly well written lyrically. It is evident by this point that those three decades have paid off – LaTocha is a great songwriter, and also singer. Second standout 'Stay with me' reinforces her considerable ability vocally. The rest of the album continues in similar vein, including the passionately delivered and third standout 'I'm Yours' (“take me, use me, as You please”). Downsides? The first track becomes simply irritating on repeat listening, the second could usefully have become full length rather than its minute-and-a-half, and other longer ones 'repeat to fade' prematurely when they could have given more musically. 'Turn it up' borders on gimmicky in its heavy use of autotune. A good album however, with three standouts – and also, incidentally, with great sound quality – that I will certainly return to. LaTocha is a gifted lady and I look forward to hearing more from her. Let's hope and pray that the family spat is short-lived – it would be lovely to think she might be joined by Tamika on a follow-up? Overall 8/10. Dave Deeks. (May 2023)
LAURA HACKETT PARK : The Secret Place. (Arrowhead Music)
Laura is a recording artist, songwriter and worship leader, based in Kansas City. She writes and leads worship songs for congregations across the world and has led weekly at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City since 2004. This 4 track EP is my own introduction to Laura’s music. Backed by just a piano, the immediate feel of the songs is one of intimate praise & worship. She has a lovely voice and it soars beautifully over the acoustic sound. Both “Shalom” and “Yeshua Messiah” are simply quite exquisite. On “You Must Increase” Laura sings “All I need, I’ve found in you; You flood my being, so I pour out my love to make more room for you.” This love song to her Saviour is both delicate and powerful in its simplicity. Closing, is the equally as charming “Anointed One.” Give your ears a rest from multi-layered instruments and vocals, and have a listen to the humble sound of Laura Hackett Park. 8/10. (June 2021)
LAURA STORY : Great God Who Saves. (INO : 42432)
Most of you will have, at some time, sang the great worship song 'Idescribable'. Well, Laura is the young lady who actually wrote it. After paying her dues with a band, she's now released this solo album, and has a really delightful voice. The happy, opening song, 'Bless the Lord' sets things off nicely, and Immortal Invisible' follows suit. There's some good use of a banjo or mandolin on 'Mighty to Save', while the title track does bear a passing resemblance to Natalie Imbruglia's hit, 'Torn'. Whether she's singing with a full backing or just a stripped down acoustic sound, Laura seems to be right at home. Indeed , who would havetohught that she'd never even written or sang a song until she was in her twenties. Laura is the worship leader at Atlanta's Perimeter Church, and that experience must have rubbed off on her, and the song 'Perfect Peace' It's very simple lyric wise, but the more you listen to it, the more you realise that God's perfect peace is for you. If Laura keeps producing songslike this, then she's going to be around for a long time to come, and that's no bad thing. 9/10 (October 2008)
LAURA STORY : God of Every Story. (Fair Trade : 736211605894)
This is Laura’s third studio recording and continues her success of writing middle of the road pop songs. There’s nothing wrong with that, but this collection of songs differ very little to those on her last album. Of course, there’s a strong opening track, as you would expect. ‘There is a Kingdom’ is bright and cheerful, and the listener is warmed by the sound and lyrical content. ‘O Love of God’ is written as a celebration, and although I didn’t enjoy the track on a first listen, it’s well worth playing again to get the most out of it. My favourite song is the title track, which really lights up the album. “You’re the God of every story, and you are faithful”. These words, and those of the last verse, are particularly poignant to Laura, as she sings about her husband, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour 7 years ago. Other songs, like ‘Who But Jesus’ and ‘Keeper of the Stars’ are quite pleasant, while ‘Grace’ stands out as a fine song, complete with it’s marching band drums. We all have the power and love of God’s grace, even when we fall, as long as we seek His face. A lovely promise, and a nice song. Laura has a fine voice and with Ed Cash producing, the overall sound is excellent. Sadly, too many songs just pass you by. 5/10. (February 2014)
LAURA STORY : Open Hands. (Fair Trade : 696859310133)
Following on from her 2014 release “God of Every Story,” this is Laura’s 4th studio album release. I wasn’t too keen on her last album, but this one is so much better. From the opening “Death Has Arrested” there’s a real freshness in her writing and in the production of each song. The first single from the album is the title track, and it’s a touching duet with Third Day’s Mac Powell. Based on Psalm 51, it tells you that God loves the brokenness that you suffer, when you give it all to Him. “Give You Faith” is written by a mother to her child. It’s a poignant song that, I think, can be used as a prayer. “As long As I have breath n my body, I will sing for the love of my King.” This is the thrust behind “For the Love of My King.” This song comes mid-way through the album, and Laura’s vocals are strong and concise. “Awake My Soul” is co-written by Laura, with help from Matt Redman, Matt Maher, and Joseph Myrin. Subtitled “A 1000 Tongues,” it sounds like an old hymn, set to a modern tune. As the album comes to an end, Laura sings of wonder of God’s “Majesty,” and the “Extraordinary” love of Jesus. This album sounds like Laura has been blessed with some really good songs. 8/10. (July 2017)
LAURA STORY : I Give Up. (Fair Trade)
This 5 track EP contains some of the best pop praise that I’ve heard for some time. It is a reflection of her journey to learn that she no longer wants to be in control of her life. She wants to be rooted in the God who is in control. Discover a deeper life of worship, a fuller life of joy, and a freer life of true surrender as you open your hands to God. And give up. “Not My Life” is the first song on show. Surrendering to God, and living for His glory, is the message. The production is first class, and makes for a polished track. A piano is the main instrument behind “You Cannot Be Stopped,” although others do join in, eventually. Lyrics such as; “Jesus has triumphed over the grave,” and “Nothing can stand against our God,” remind us how grateful we should be. My favourite track has to be “Holy.” This song is a pure delight, and I simply loved it when the choir joined in to sing the chorus. “I Give Up” and “Nearness” are two slower songs, but neither lack in praise and wonder of our God. Vocally, Laura is faultless throughout, and this release features, in my opinion, some of her best work. 9/10. (December 2019)
LAUREN TALLEY : Lord’s Prayer. (Horizon Records)
Lauren says; “In a world full of noise, it’s important to carve out a moment to stop and whisper, ‘Father in heaven, we love You,’” says Talley. “‘Lord’s Prayer,’ invites quiet worship and reflection, just my vocal supported only by producer Gordon Mote’s piano accompaniment. Natalie Cromwell’s haunting melody brings new beauty to the words of Jesus, as He gives us all the example to follow amidst all the distractions and busyness of life.” I wasn’t really looking forward to hearling this track as, so many times before; artists have tried to put these sacred words to song. Well, I’ve got to say that Lauren has a great voice. It’s both crisp and clean, with perfect pronunciation. The track is simply produced and that works nicely. It’s certainly not one of those ‘Lord’s Prayer’ songs that make you cringe. Will I listen use it for personal reflection? Possibly. 6/10. (September 2022)
LAUREN TALLEY : This is For You.   (HorizonREcords)
Lauren says; “I think This Is For You may be the pinnacle of my recording career thus far. It’s the first album I have recorded as a full-time solo artist since the retirement of The Talleys, and working alongside producer Gordon Mote injected the whole process with fresh creativity. I love the songs, I love the sounds, and well, I’ve lived the lyrics.” The title track has some beautiful, opening, lyrics; “This is for you; The ones who are broken; Deep down inside, and you’re trying to hide; This is for you.” The song is really moving, as Jesus says; “I’ll meet you, right where you are.” The tempo rises for the country/rock story of Jesus’ life called ‘Shut Him Up.’ Sam Hoyle duets with Lauren on ‘Honey in the Rock.’ It’s an old fashioned sound that declares that we have all we need, if we know Jesus.  ‘How I Got Over’ motors along with some deep, keyboard sounds, and gospel choir backing. In total contrast, ‘Thank You Jesus for the Blood’ gets a full orchestral production, resulting in a very powerful ballad. Whilst acknowledging Lauren’s vocals prowess, I thought that the quality of the songs differed quite a lot. Perhaps the Press Release falsely built my expectations up too high. It’s a competent release, but I couldn’t help feeling slightly disappointed.   6/10. (January 2023)
LE’ANDRIA : Bigger Than Me. (RCA Inspirational : 889854129323)
Le’Andria is a new artist to my ears, but a well-respected gospel singer in her native America. This album marries classic gospel with some more pop orientated RnB, as on the successful title track. Carrying a musical bass line, similar to a Whitney Huston hit, Le’Andria soon shows off her big voice. On “Come Through” she harnesses that vocal prowess to deliver a sure-fire radio hit that is pleasing to the ear. “All I Got” was inspired by the death of her brother last year, and you can tell that it’s personal. The message is that even in your darkest despair, Jesus’ love can conquer all. For me, it’s the RnB numbers that I liked the most, such as the smooth “Wait on You.” What I wasn’t so keen on was the Shirley Caesar style gospel on both “Change Is Now” and “Holy Ghost.” For me, the sound is quite dated, but I understand that it’s still popular in the U.S. The big ballad on the album is “Gone Too Long”, where Le’Andria declares that she’s been gone too long from God’s presence. She sings from the heart, and is joined by a great sounding choir throughout. This is an album that will introduce Le’Andria to new listeners in Europe, and I’m sure that there’ll be plenty to add this record to their collection. 8/10. (December 2017)
LEAD KINDLE LIGHT : Classic Hymns - A Choral Collection. (ABC Records : 50141 8203592 2)
Here's one for the purists amongst you that like nothing better than a choral presentation of some of the best known hymns around. What can I say, the style doesn't differ from one tune to the next. The voices are exceptional in their quality and everything swings from one song to the next. Personally, it's not my sort of thing but hymns like "When I Survey", "Rock of Ages" and "The king of love" are all treated with respect. Nearly an hour of music and if this is your sort of thing, I don't think that you'll be disappointed. 7/10. (February 2005)
LEAGUE OF LIGHTS : In the In Between.   (
Richard and Farrah West are better known as League of Lights. Of their new album, their bio says; “In the in Between” showcases Farrah’s sublime and enchanting vocals across 14 new original songs with a sound that makes room for electronic rock, synth pop, piano, cinematic soundscapes and everything in between. I wasn’t too impressed by the opening “Shockwave.” I found the marriage between pure piano sounds and crashing synth’ sounds to be too abrasive for my liking. The piano sound is a stand-out feature of the album, as on the track “On A Night Like This.” It reminded me a little of Robert Miles’ nineties hit “Children,” and very radio friendly. I really liked Farrah’s vocals on most of the songs, but the title track is especially good. On “Spectrometer” the rather robotic percussion took me back to the sounds of Kraftwerk, but with great orchestral pads, added. My favourite songs were “Strong Enough” and “Kings & Queens.” The former bounces along in pop fashion, while the latter has a very atmospheric feel to it. I found it difficult to find any sort of religious tones within these songs but, perhaps, “Kings & Queens” came close with a theme of passing from this world and into Heaven. So, a very different type of release from this duo and, musically, rather challenging for this reviewer.   7/10. (November 2019)
LEAH MARI : All I Have Needed. (Bethel Music : LM1001-1)
Leah Mari is a worship leader from the US Bethel Church. She's also part of the collective known as the Jesus Culture, but this is her debut solo release. The songs are traditional hymns, given a country/folk make over and, on the whole, it all hangs together very nicely. The album begins with an interesting acoustic version of 'All Creatures of Our God & King'. Leah Mari's vocals embrace every word and the song works well. I can't say the same, however, of 'Holy, Holy, Holy'. It's beat is very pedestrian and I kept wanting to speed it up. She has a very, lovely voice and it's shown to the fore on the beautiful 'Tis So Sweet'. 'There is a Fountain' is more uptempo in the country style, as is 'Pass MeNot'. 'Nothing But the Blood' and 'Be Thou My Vision' are very pretty renditions, and there's some nice guitar work on 'Blessed Assurance'. Although none of the songs were new to me, these versions made most songs sound brand new. It would be interesting to hear some original songs from Leah Mari, as I think that her voice would be well worth hearing again. 9/10 (November 2010)
LEANNA CRAWFORD : Truth I’m Standing On. (Provident)
For the past two and half years, the singer-songwriter from north-western Washington, Leanna Crawford, has been writing, touring and singing with some of the biggest names in the Christian music industry. She’s gained more experience than many artists do in a decade, and while her music certainly displays the vocal and songwriting talent of a rising star in CCM, her grounded and honest lyrics make her feel more friend and confidante than star, more approachable than untouchable. Her previous single, “Funeral” was really good but, this new song just blew me away! A tinkling piano introduces a fabulous vocal, singing; “Scared, oh I thought I knew scared; But I’m so filled with fear; I can barely move.” Leanna moves onto doubts, and wonders where God is, right now? It’s when she declares the following, that the whole song lifts off. “This is the truth I’m standing on; Even, when all my strength is gone; You are faithful forever: And I know you’ll never let me fall.” At this point, we’re only halfway through the song, and it just gets better. I don’t use this description lightly, but this song is stunning. 10/10. (May 2020, Record of the Month)
LEANNA CRAWFORD : Leanna Crawford EP.   (Provident)
After releasing two smashing singles, Leanna Crawford’s EP is now available. Of course, is goes without saying, that I still wax lyrical about “Truth I’m Standing On.” As soon as I heard it, the song hit my heart. The other single release, “Funeral,” is good too. Leanna sings about holding a funeral for “the old me.” After giving her life to Jesus, she knows that there’s only one way forward. “Photoshop” is a well written tune. Here, Leanna challenges women, especially, not to fall for that the media say they should be. “You don’t need no photoshop. Don’t  need to be what you not. You’re  already a treasure; no-one can make you better.” It’s a choppy little number that goes around in your head for hours after hearing it. A nice piano intro begins the quieter “Mean Girl,” but, there’s still a great message to the song. The hurt that is caused by words that others may have called you, can often cause such painful memories. Leanna calls to her Father in Heaven to remind her that her worth, is worth, so much more than their words. The song is truly beautiful and healing for those who have suffered this way. I love Leanna’s voice. There’s just a real quality there that attracts me to her songs. Love will change your life, is the theme behind “This is What They Meant.” Bright and bouncy sounds carry the song along, that results in a cheerful feel. The final song finds Leanna declaring that she loves Jesus, and to sing about her freedom. If that’s seen as being uncool, then she’s more than happy to be “Uncool.” If you’ve still not heard of Leanna Crawford, give this EP a listen. You won’t be disappointed.   10/10. (June 2020, Record of the Month)
LEANNA CRAWFORD : Before I Knew Jesus. (Provident Label Group)
Leanna returns with a brand new single that celebrates finding Jesus in her life. The production is superb, in my humble opinion. It’s one of those songs that builds in power, both lyrically and musically. The latter is led by a piano sound, and fits perfectly as guitars, strings and drums are added. It’s the sort of number that you might expect to come from the likes of Michael W. Smith. It’s that good! 10/10. (October 2022)
LECRAE : Real Talk. (Reach Records).
This is the first album by Lecrae, who hails from San Diego. Like most hip hop CD's, once you've heard the first track you've heard them all. There is absolutely no variation between any of the tracks on this CD at all, every track has the same plodding drums/bass rhythm punctuated by a synth line consisting of about half a dozen notes that repeat throughout the whole track, and over the top of it all some guy trying to break the world record for the maximum number of words delivered in the quickest time possible. I have to say that this was the probably one of the most boring CD's I have ever listened to. I did let a couple of other people hear it, just in case it was me being hyper critical, but I'm afraid that I couldn't find anyone who liked it. Maybe hip hop just isn't hip in York, or maybe this CD would just go down better in America than Britain, but whatever the reason it doesn't do anything for me I'm afraid. There is some info about Lecrae at and there are two MP3's that you can download there too. Both are from this CD so you can try it out for yourself. 4/10 Andy Sayner. (January 2006)
LECRAE : Rebel. (Reach Records)
I've no background information to this artist, but he follows in the same rap/hip-hop style as DA T.R.U.T.H. It's a mammoth 15 track album, dealing with temptation, sin, love, mercy, etc….you get my drift. When I come across these albums that I wouldn't normally listen to, I'm always pleased to make the effort, and compare them with current UK chart acts. On the scale, Rebel comes out pretty well, as I think he's pretty good. The title track gives a sort of overview of Jesus' life, while "Indwelling Sin' looks at temptation and how to resist it. 'Breathin' to Death' is very much an Eminem clone of a song and I did, really, like this track. Another good song was 'Live Free', where Rebel proclaims that we do "live Free" by His mercy and peace. While this album hasn't made it into my car stereo, I can certainly say that if this style of music is your thing, you won't be disappointed by Rebel. 7/10 (April 2009)
LECRAE : Rehab. (Reach Records : 829569816125)
Rehab is Atlanta rapper Lecrae Moore’s 5th studio album & it’s been a massive hit in both the CCM & secular charts alike, having a debut at number 16 in the US Billboard charts making him one of the best selling Christian Rap/Hip-Hop albums of all time. Pretty impressive! I will be the first to admit though that rap/hip-hop music & I don’t normally get along too well to say the least, but even for a Philistine such as myself, it’s easy to see why fans of the genre will lap this up. The CD has a whopping 17 tracks to it’s name & is released on Reach Records, a label which Lecrae co-founded. From the outset, we’re confronted with some pounding bass lines which will give any set of speakers a good workout – particularly notable on the opening “Check In” & the following “Killa”, interwoven with plenty of synth which gives the tunes more feel & atmosphere as opposed to some of the secular material which often sounds like a nonsensical din to the untrained ear! I am pleased to say that the album offers plenty of variety, possibly as there has been much collaboration with fellow artists such as Trip Lee in the production. I particularly liked “Children of the Night” which even has a dash of reggae in the mix. There are others such as “High” on the other hand which were very heavy & too genre-typical to do much for me. Vocal quality is high throughout & it is refreshing to hear that instead of glorifying materialism, sex and ‘macho’ behaviour, the songs relate to daily struggles with sin & addictions of all kinds, how this affects others & the need for our lives to be modelled on Jesus – not on some worldly icon. The CD is well presented but I have to say some of the typo on the insert was so microscopically small it was impossible to read! All in all a quality offering that deserves success for it’s target audience. Not one for my personal collection though. 8/10 Simon Redfern (April 2011)
LEELAND : Sound of Melodies. (Essential : 083061081225)
The title of this album really gives the game away. It's full of majestic melodies and thoughtful lyrics. Giving in to my better judgement, I can see quite a bit of Coldplay influences within the songs, as well as a little Killers drive, especially on "Can't Stop". The album took me a couple of plays to enjoy, but "Yes You Have" was an instant hit with me. It's about God purifying your heart and there's some nice harmonies too. "Tears of the Saints" is a slower song about leading lost sheep back to God, and it works very well. Later on in the listing I felt that the band loosened up a little and bouncy songs like "Lift Your Eyes" ventured into the land of pop rather than rock. Indeed, both "Too Much" and "How Wonderful" would make good listening to those of an easier style to the ear. It all ends with an anthemic finish which is, "Carried to the Table" - a great song of worship. Not an instant hit, as I said, but it is quite enjoyable. 8/10. (February 2007)
LEELAND : Opposite Way. (Essentail : 83061 085421)
For me, Leeland sound like a cross between U2 and Delirious?. Their power rock and guitar riffs can, at times, excite, and they get their message across with their well written lyrics. The opening 'Count Me In' is one for the guitar aficionado's, and it steams along. The more melodic 'Enter This Temple' talks about being more like Jesus in our lives, and is a timely reminder of how far short we fall. I instantly liked 'Wake Up'. It's a call for us all not to keep God a secret. Go out, "wake up" and tell the world about Him! If you've come through darkness in your life, then you'll recognise the sentiments of 'Brighter Days'. God's promise is to deliver us from the darkness, no matter what we've been going through in our lives. 'Don't Go Away' has an edgey feel to it, while 'May Our Praise' was the closest the band come to a Delirious type of number. Certainly an album to consider. 8/10 (August 2008)
LEELAND : Love is On the Move. (Essential Records : 083061090524)
Although they have been around for a while, this CD represents my introduction to Leeland. The band consists of talented lead singer, songwriter and guitarist Leeland Mooring supported by keyboard player/vocalist Jack Mooring, guitarist Austin Tirado, bass player Jake Holtz, and drummer Mike Smith. Formed in 2005, their debut 'Sound of Melodies' was released in 2006, followed by 'Opposite Way' in 2008. Here we have their latest offering - and very good it is too! Probably best described as melodic pop rock, here we have grown-up lyrics that largely escape the trap of well-worn evangelical phrases, infectious tunes laden with memorable hooks, note-perfect lead vocals and a liberal use of effective close harmonies. On top of all this, production is great and the arrangements include original little touches to further add to the listening experience. It is some time since my track notes were so consistently positive for a review album, but if pushed for standouts I would say that 'Via Dolorosa' particularly impressed on early listening (the title means 'way of sorrows' and represents Jesus' journey to the cross) and others that soon matched it on repeated plays included 'Pure Bride', 'Carry me on your back' and 'Weak man'. Interestingly, the 'HDCD' light on my Linn CD player indicates that the recording is in the now little used 'high definition audio' format. Unfortunately the sound doesn't reflect this, with some of the common tendency these days to harshness and compression. This won't prevent me keeping an eye out for Leeland Mooring in future however! - a very talented guy, leading a great sounding band, recording excellent songs that reflect a faith in the One who has blessed him with the talents he is using to His glory. 10/10. David Deeks (March 2010)
LEELAND : City of God. (Capitol CMG)
An album based on Psalm 46, starts with a very pleasant pop song ‘Still Mighty,’ which is very listenable and easily sung along to. I was surprised for track 2, ‘Ark.’ I was expecting something along the same lines but no, a really nice song. Vanessa Hill shares the great vocals over a slower and, for me, more interesting arrangement. Starting with gentle piano, a bassline then enters the soundscape. An organ sound gently fades in for a couple of lines, before the whole band finally lifts the song. Lyrically it reminds us about when the flood comes, you will be safe in His ark. A very reassuring message over a gentle backing. ‘Heart and Flesh’ is the third offering with a different vocalist, Taya. I must say that I find it distracting when half way through a line the singer takes a quick breath which devalues the lyric. Having said that, the chorus has a long line which is sung perfectly without a breath, so breath control is obviously not an issue. (Just a modern trend I guess). This is a really nice worshipful song and I am liking it! Nice backing vocals and guitars. And, yes, I forgot all about the breathing issue as the song built up towards the end. I noted that 4 of the songs are over 6 minutes long, and 2 of them over 9 minutes. Yet, when listening, I hadn’t felt that the songs were too long - which was refreshing. ‘Yahwey’ is an example. A gentle worship song which flows like a river, guided by the vocals and piano/acoustic guitar accompaniment. “If you still have breath in your lungs, you’re not done,” is a line from ‘You’re Not Done.; Again, quietly, the song reassures you that you can rely on God being by your side always. With similar backing to the other songs, the guitars and organ blend together for a solid wall of sound, accompanying the vocals. ‘Midnight’ is a prayer, although not sure why ‘midnight’ is even in the lyrics? It seems out if place, Jesus or Father would fit better (for me!). ‘Fall of Dagon’ is a song about the falling of false gods, and how the true God is worshiped when the falsehoods are exposed. Then, we come to ‘Jacob’s Ladder which takes us above the clouds and into the heavens, a place we all want to be. “I don’t wanna come back down”. It’s such a good song. Upbeat and uplifting, just a great musical picture. ‘Wonderfully Made’ is a beautiful song reminding us we all are fearfully and wonderfully made. It reminded me of when I first saw each of my grandchildren, only to realise that I am just the same only a lot older. The title track closes things, and lasts for 9 minutes. A sudden key transposition in the early part took me by surprise, and then again, when I thought that the song was over. But no! It becomes a prophetic song before reverting to its earlier pace. Like the rest of the album, very listenable and uplifting. 9/10 Noel Donaldson. (May 2023)
LEELAND MOORING : My Worship. (Integrity Music)
Beginning with just an acoustic backing, Leeland Mooring sings this worship song with the reverence it deserves. Backed by some gentle voices, I really liked the way that they provided an excellent sound. Written by Phil Thompson, 'My Worship' is a simple song that speaks about our offering to God Almighty.’ The bridge is quite beautiful; “As long as I am breathing, I will always worship you. I will not be silent, I will always worship you.” Some modern day worship can sound a little contrived, at times, but this certainly bucks that trend. 9/10. (August 2020)
THE LeFEVRE QUARTET : Between the Prayer & the Answer.   (
Great lead vocals and perfect harmonies have always been the backbone of this group’s music. Add to that, a terrific bass vocal, and you have a great sound. This new song celebrates God as The Master, and how HE’s working in your life. “He’s turning rivers of tears, back into laughter. He’s bringing peace to a storm, because He’s the Master. Musically, there’s some super orchestration, and the result is a terrific song.   9/10. (June 2020)
LEGACY 5 : London. (Daywind : 1319D)
When the award winning Southern Gopsel group The Cathedrals retired, two of the members decided to form a new group. The resulting Legacy Five now have an established fan base, and a terrific new Cd, recorded with the London Session Orchestra. As the Greater Vision review testifies, this type of music has really got a hold of me and this is another great album. Brilliant harmonies, right from the opening ballad "Holy is Thy name". "I've Got That Old Time Religion" is done in typical old fashion style but the song itself is quite uplifting The use of vocal stacking is pure gold on "Joy" but, then, the vocal quality is there throughout the album. I wasn't so keen on the brass sounds that accompanied "Meanwhile" but with goodies like "I Found Grace" and "Committed to the Cause of Christ", we're soon back on track. The band's desire is to live their lives in accordance with God's will and deliver performances that will inspire and encourage a widespread fanbase. This album does the business, and the closing "Home Free" should become one of the hit's of the year. 9/10. (June 2003)
LEGACY FIVE : Something New. (Stow Town Records)
Legacy Five has enjoyed more success in their short career than many groups experience in decades. In their first ten years, The Singing News Magazine, Southern Gospel music’s leading fan and trade publication, has nominated Legacy Five for some 75 Singing News fan awards. So, it’s no surprise that these guys have great voices and turn out hit album after another. After the opening ‘Welcome to Your Life,’ I was instantly tapping my foot to ‘Enough for Me.’ It’s a superb song with the chorus; “If He never ever did another thing for me, I’d be forever thanking Him for Calvary. He lived and He died and He rose in three, Hallelujah that’ll always be enough for me.” The recent single, ‘Given, Buried, Risen,’ is a big ballad, complete with an orchestral production. Meanwhile, the choppy ‘Who Better Than Me’ has some nice keyboard pads, plus a honky-tonk piano during the break. The poignant ‘I’ve Seen What He Can Do’ reminded me of Lonestar’s ‘I’m Already There,’ and it’s a lovely song. I’ve got to say that I wasn’t so keen on banjo-led ‘Believer,’ but the album ends with a very smooth title track. With this new album, Legacy Five show no sign of wilting in both song choice and production. 8/10. (November 2021)
LEIGH BARNARD : Countless are the Mercies. ( ICC ICC0874D)
This is a CD of worship music, it's a fairly middle of the road light pop/rock style mostly guitar led stuff. It's a strange CD really. There isn't anything particularly wrong with it, but then again, there's nothing particularly outstanding about it either. It just kind of drifts along somehow. I think that it might be that there isn't much variation in style or tempo, it could do with a couple of faster songs probably, some of the intro's make you think that this will be a faster song, but as soon as the vocals kick in everything just slows down again. It's a pity really because if you listen to any of the tracks on their own the songs are quite good, just not enough variation for me when listened to as a whole CD. There is an offer with this CD to get a free video of one of the tracks "Our God Reigns" (No not that one) on a CD-ROM. The other strange thing about this CD is that the title track is listed as a bonus track at the end of the CD. It must be one of those marketing tricks that we have come to expect from certain secular labels, who seem to think that the music buying public are a bit gullible. I doubt that this is going to be a multi-million seller. It's definitely not the sort of thing you'd expect one of the leading CCM labels to stoop to. 5/10 Andy Sayner. (February 2006)
LEIGH NASH : Blue on Blue. (Nettwerk : 0 6700 30478 2 1)
Like many, after the demise of Sixpence None the Richer, I often wondered what had happened to Leigh Nash - she of the ethereal vocals. Well, finally, here she is with her debut solo album, "Blue on blue". There's no mistaking those vocal traits from the moment she launches into "Along the Wall", but it's a rather unconvincing opening. "Nervous in the Light of Dawn" is, I think, about a personal wish for guidance and peace but, again, it's a rather weak number. Things then brighten with a catchy, shuffling love song, centering on a special relationship. "My Idea of Heaven". It's very cleverly written and has you singing along within an instant. Unfortunately, things take a dive in quality and most of the remaining songs belong in the waste bin. Leigh has co-writing credits on all of the songs, but I'm afraid that they just don't have much quality as far as potential hits go. "Cloud Nine" grabs a little of the limelight with it's catchy hooks but two good songs don't make for a good album. It's very ordinary and rather disappointing. 4/10 (December 2006)
LEIGH NASH : Hymns & Sacred Songs. (Kingsway : KWCD3263)
I guess that Leigh Nash will always be promoted as the voice behind Sixpence None the Richer. Even now, I still get requests to play ‘Kiss Me’ on the radio. But, Leigh has also followed a successful solo career, and this album is her latest release. Now, although the title suggested that the songs were a compilation of well known tunes, I really struggled to recognise a lot of them. Indeed, it was only when I scanned the sleeve credits (with a magnifying glass), that I realised the rich pedigree of the song writers. The opening ‘Saviour’, written by Dororthy A Thrupp, includes some nice, uncredited, banjo playing. It’s a prayer to Jesus, our Saviour. ‘Isaiah 55’ is a modern number, and it’s a super song of praise, with Leigh’s vocals soaring throughout. Nash has her own quirky style at times, and it’s at it’s best on the well known song, ‘The Power of the Cross’. The poppy ‘Give Myself To You’ is light and happy sounding, while Fanny Crosby’s ‘Blessed Redeemer’ is also given a breath of new life. The theme throughout the album is praise, and you couldn’t ask for more than Leigh’s rendition of Charles Wesley’s ‘Praise the Lord Who Reigns Above’. The chorus is infectious, and I’ll wager that as soon as you hear it, you can’t stop yourself singing along. For the second month in a row, I am so blessed to have been able to review a really wonderful album. 10/10. (March 2012, Album of the Month)
LEIGH NASH : The Tide Acoustic Sessions. (Visionary Entertainment)
It’s more than 20 years since Leigh’s involvement with Sixpence None the Richer. Since then, she’s continued to write, sing, and collaborate on a number of projects. The Tide Vol.1 was originally released in 2021 which, I’m afraid, didn’t ever make it to NFN HQ. This new 7 track release appears to reimagine the same songs, but with a stripped back production. An early highlight is the duet with Ruby Amanfu, ‘Good Trouble.’ Piano led, there’s some lovely string sounds added, as the duo sing of God’s love. The next song is ‘Never Again, Every Time’ where Leigh laments on the question, “What have I gotten myself into this time?” A complete surprise to me was the inclusion of Elton John’s ‘Your Song.’ The original has always been a favourite of mine, so I was surprised just how good this version sounded, with just an acoustic guitar backing. Robert Lowry’s ‘I Need Thee Every Hour’ gets an outing, while the track listing closes with ‘God Gave Me Horses.’ Each track reveals Nash’s diversity as a performer and heart as a storyteller, with each song choice reflecting both struggle and hope, even in the midst of rarely having all the answers. “I think the thread is vulnerability, just being open to whatever the creative thing is that whispers in our ear,” Nash says. “Listen to it. It’s being vulnerable to the moment, to the songs, to the music, to why I’m on this earth.” 7/10. (February 2023)
LENA BYRD-MILES : Brand New. (MyBlock Inc)
After establishing herself as one of the most sought-after vocalists in Contemporary Gospel, Lena Byrd-Miles delivers her debut album, “Brand New”. The project – released late in 2022, has become a staple in the contemporary Gospel-space. “Brand New” is a collection of eleven inspirational songs, each of which showcase Lena’s powerhouse vocals and her unique ability to manipulate her voice to evoke the needed emotion – being comfort, motivation or reassurance. On listening to this album, I went to Spotify, pressed play on the song “Brand New” which is the title track and first track on this album after a 25” vocal dialogue. Instant head dancing occurred. Try it, go to Spotify bring up this album and see what happens to you. “Brand New” was released in 2022 and Lena has recently been awarded her first Stellar Award for “New Artist of the Year.” Lena is a gifted vocalist and her voice has caught the attention of musicians and artists alike and has resulted in her sharing the stage with many amazing artists including Tye Tribbett, Lalah Hathaway, Deitrick haddon, Dorinda Clark-Cole, John P Kee and the legendary Edwin Hawkins as part of the new Edwin Hawkins Singers. Her gift continues to open many doors. But more important that all of that, her compassion for mankind will cause you to appreciate her heart. The first track “Brand New” seamlessly rolls into the second track W.O.W. “Walk On Water”. This track continues to be a firm favourite on the airways. The album highlights Lena’s soulful and rich vocals. The album’s opening tracks introduce you to a number of soulful offerings followed by a section of slow raw tracks with limited accompaniment that completely allow Lena’s voice the space to shine. The album finishes on a great track “Grateful Medley” ending with “Great is Thy faithfulness” with a Hammond organ accompaniment. Lena is at the moment in the middle of a US summer tour and has joined with multi-platinum rising Gospel legend, Erica Campbell as her special guest on Erica’s “Feel Alright Tour”. A lovely inspirational soulful album. 9/10. Vivienne Neville. (August 2023)
LENNY Le BLANC : All for Love. (Integrity : 42472)
It has been a while since Lenny's last album, 5 years in fact, and the sleeve of this his new release promises "12 fresh worship songs". They partly fulfil this criteria in respect of being new original songs but they don't really provide a fresh perspective or sound. Produced by Lenny under the watchful guise of Don Moen the overall sound of the album is typical worship cd fare to be honest - It's slick and neat but, for my mind, over processed. The first song "Ascend" is excellent. I like its strong melody line and as a result it is a worship song in the traditional sense - it will work well sung by a congregation. The second track "Walls Come Down" is pretty good too and it gives a sense that this album could really be something special. After that though I find that Lenny's great songwriting somehow struggles to shine through. I know there are some great songs amongst the bulk of the album, such as the touching "All for Love" but there just does not seem to be enough distinction between the songs. It's a trap that many albums in this genre have fallen into of late and a crying shame that this has suffered the same fate. 6/10 Robin Thompson (December 2007)
LEON REMNANT : Faith Over Fear - F.O.F (
Leon says; “Faith Over Fear” is a project God put in my heart for some years now. I’m very transparent in this project by expressing my artistic creativity through the whole project. We live in a chaotic world filled with violence, health crisis, anxiety and other socio-economic issues. But this album is aimed at building our hope and faith to trust in God.” For those hearing the name of Leon Remnant for the first time, his musical style is hip-hop based with a touch of Afrobeats. No, not everyone’s cup of tea, but I always approach this style with an open mind. On ‘Hold On’ he shares vocals with Naomi Mac. The message is to hold on in your troubles because God is working on it, whether you realise it or not. Sometimes the vocal delivery of hip-hop is hard to decipher, but on tracks such as ‘Like you,’ I had no trouble. This time, Leon duets with Mike Abdul and they declare that they want to live like Jesus. It’s got a catchy tune, and was an early highlight of the album. The artist seems to duet with a host of different artists on the album, such as Ruffman, Cmion and A’dam, to name but three. Sometimes, it works better than others. A positive collaboration is with Omolade, who joins Leon for the song ‘Power.’ Again, the theme is giving God glory and praise, and I enjoyed this one very much. Overall, the album’s lyrics are encouraging, and should have greater appeal to a younger audience than me. Nevertheless, worth a 6/10. (June 2022)
LERATO SHADARE : Beauty for Ashes. (
International worship leader, Lerato, says; “The song is for those who have been written off and those who have been told what good can come out of them. The ones that God pick from the ashes and gives them beauty. Beauty for ashes!” In a singing style to that of Dorinda Clark-Cole, Lerato gives her all, with this gospel number. Ably, backed by some great musicians and singers, the song fairly motors along, at pace. The chorus lyrics sum up the theme of the song; “You have taken shame away; You have beautified my life; You have taken my pain away; You have beautified my life.” In true gospel style, the closing part of the song, sees the singer holler her way to its rather stuttering end. Overall though, it’s quite a good song. 6/10. (July 2021)
LES ISAAC : Street Pastors. Survivor : ISBN 978-1-84291-9)
Britain's late night street stories are familiar to all: binge drinking, loneliness, gang culture, knife and gun crime, violence and fear. But, since 2003 a new breed of help has been on hand to dispel the tension and bring some desperately needed hope back to our urban communities. This is the book which tells the story of a group of people, including Les Isaac, who decided to do something about the chaos, setting up the country's first street pastor's team in Brixton. Six years later there are over 125 Street Pastors teams at work around the country, with more than 3,000 Christians involved. I was pleased to receive this book, as it coincided with the launch of a street pastor team in my home city. Les takes you through the journey. From his first thoughts, he narrates in detail how the first group was put together, the problems and the impact that group has had. Using testimonies from street pastors around the country, he gives direct insights into the work. He gives food for thought to anyone considering starting their own community team, and encourages those already on the frontline. It's an engaging read, and one that you will not put down easily. 8/10 (December 2009)
Letters To God (DVD, Kingsway, unrated)
Don’t ask me why but, for me, a movie is off to a good start when the first character who speaks to you is played by John Walton Sr (actor Ralph Waite for those too young to remember), and the next 102 minutes lives up to that early promise. Letters from God is written by Patrick Doughtie, inspired by his son Tyler’s fight against cancer, and, whilst the real life Tyler Doughtie (Tanner Maguire, as Tyler Doherty) story hit the headlines when an associate stole money from funds raised to help him, none of that darker story features here. The movie instead presents a fictionalised version of the story featuring an alcoholic mailman, Brady McDaniels (Jeffrey Johnson) who is moved to change himself as a result of reading the daily letters he collects from Tyler addressed to God, and grows close to the family in the course of the film. As well as Ralph Waite, who plays the Grandfather of Tyler’s best friend Sam (Bridge To Terabithia’s Bailee Madison), the cast supporting the central characters is excellent, without exception, even down to the bit part players such as Brady’s churchgoing boss, and the barman at his drinking den. The film looks and sounds great, the dialogue is crisp, if occasionally clichéd, and the script is by turns funny, heart-warming and moving, particularly as Tyler’s Mother Maddy (Robyn Lively) and Brother Ben (Michael Bolten) wrestle with their relationships with God and each other amid Tyler’s illness. The spiritual dimension, along with the inspired conceit of Tyler’s letters to God, add new and interesting layers to what could have been just another bog standard movie about a cute kid with cancer and even an old cynic like me can heartily recommend it. 9/10 David Cooper (April 2011)
LEVI McGRATH : Be Here Now. (
“Be Here Now” is the latest album from Levi McGrath who is an independent Singer/Songwriter from Melbourne, Australia. What a breath of fresh air this album delivers. “Be Here Now” is definitely an album for here and now as we all make our way through this Covid season. I’m going to dive straight in and suggest you pull up this album and listen straight away to one of the tracks on this album, “You Are In Control.” If you need any assurance from the Lord through this season, this track will encourage you to always remember that God is ultimately in control regardless of the circumstances across our world at the moment. Levi has birthed a song here that was made for this moment. Years ago, Levi found this catchy hook repeating in his mind “You are in control” it was years before that little hook and complete song were crafted into the whole track. Again, I need to say the message of this track is tailor-made for this season of uncertainty we are all now in. Levi of this song says, “It takes us back to that place where we can be reminded of God’s sovereignty in all situations, including this one right now.” Of this track Levi says “For me, it was written in a time when I was in between albums, in between tours, and I’m like, ‘What’s next, God, what’s next for me? I can’t see the blueprint. I don’t know what’s up ahead, I don’t know what’s coming, and I’m nervous about the future. What’s in store for me? Is music still what you’re calling me to, God? And I was really kind of struggling, I didn’t realize that… all these years later, that this song would be for now.” It was Levi’s wife who first picked up on the significance of the message. “My wife heard me practicing it in my studio one night, and she tapped me on the shoulder, and said, ‘This song is for Covid-19, this is for now, for people in isolation who are really struggling. They’ve lost their business, they’ve lost their jobs, they don’t know how to teach their kids, how to inspire their families… so it’s going to be a song of hope and encouragement.’ And it basically says that God’s in control. We don’t need to worry.” Trusting God in every situation is basically the message running through this album and the trusting God theme has been the word over the whole of Levi which was passed down to him from his childhood when his parents spoke these words to him as a young boy; Isaiah 43: ‘Do not be afraid, I’ve called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be there. When you pass through the flames, you will not be burned.’ Of this verse, Levi says, “I just love that we can actually find some rest and some peace in this verse, and not stress out, and not worry.” The whole package of this album, lyrics, vocals, and musical arrangements are all just superb. Many of the songs end quite unexpectantly and leave the track just hanging in the air. This has the effect of wanting to listen again. This is an album you will want to listen to again and again. Check it out, you will be glad you did. Stand Out Tracks for me were as already mentioned “You Are In Control” followed by “River Run Deep” and “Tear The Walls Down” with its effortless gentle vocal “Tear the walls down” definitely leaves you wanting more, I didn’t want this track to end. Most definitely “Be Here Now” is a very encouraging album for our times right now. Standing ovation to Levi for this album “Be Here Now” 10/10. Vivienne Neville. (October 2020, Record of the Month)
LIBBY REDMAN : Where Love Begins. (
Libby Redman is a soul influenced singer who, for ten years, was musical and creative director at York’s Ark Church. This is her first full length album and I must say that it packed a surprise or two. Almost immediately, my ears pricked up as the opening ‘Keep the Faith’ began. “Ah, that’s it”, I thought, “she sounds like Yazz!” The track is very stylish and tells how Libby is living her life for God. On ‘Count My Blessing’s, Jon Taylor’s sax sound enhances a nice middle eight section. There was still something bugging me about her voice, mid-album and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. ‘His Blood’ features the One Voice Gospel Choir, and what a fine song it is too. Then it struck me. Libby’s soulful vocals, coupled with Iain Boulton’s production work result in some fine work, sounding very much in the Amy Winehouse territory. Puzzle over. For an independent recording, the individual instruments come over very well, as on the piano and acoustic guitar led title track, where Libby’s vocals are simply majestic. Later on, there’s a tongue in cheek song about having her tonsils removed, but in the main, the songs are totally God centred. A very good first outing. 8/10. (April 2013)
LIBERTY QUARTET : Southern Gospel Tribute. (
This is a compilation of some of their favourite songs, previously sung by some of their favourite groups such as The Cathedrals, The Imperials, Gaither Vocal Band, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Happy Goodmans, and Dottie Rambo. As for the songs picked, there’s a lot of what I would call old fashioned southern gospel numbers. ‘What A Lovely Name’ and ‘Who Am I?’ fall into this category, as does the rather mournful ‘No One Cared So Much.’ In between, we have the bluesy feel of ‘Master Builder’ celebrating the fact that Jesus built his church upon a rock. There’s some nice honky tonk piano on the, mainly, instrumental ‘Just a Closer Walk With Thee,’ while ‘Build An Ark’ gets a calypso treatment. This latter song was my favourite on the album, as it had a distinctly jubilant, overall sound. Perhaps I’m used to the more modern gospel sounds of Ernie Haase, Legacy 5 and co, but I didn’t find this collection very appealing. Possibly, it’s one for the traditionalists. 5/10. (July 2023)
LIES DAMNED LIES : Lamentations. (Sticky Music : GUMCD32)
Three years ago I went to the local art gallery and viewed the paintings in a new exhibition. I couldn't believe it, they were awful. I walked around them all twice and then decided to have a cup of tea. Suitably refreshed, my eye was caught by one of those said paintings. "Wow", I thought, "that's really good", and so were most of the others. In similar light then, comes this album written around Lamentations. It was only with the fourth listen that I began to appreciate the early Pink Floyd sounds, and the Sting-like vocals. Even the previously abysmal 'Mumble & Moan' started to appeal. 'The Sea' is the opening track and goes through 4.5 minutes of atmospheric music before jumping into a nice song. I can't pretend to understand the relationship between Lamentations and the chorus of 'Happiest', "You, sitting on my shoulder, talking about Bethnal Green'. Nevertheless, I've heard nothing like this in CCM before, and LDL may well be pushing back the frontiers. Currently 7/10 & rising. (January 1997)
LIEZEL : Oath of God. (
Liezel Goosen is originally from South Africa, but has recently joined a church in the north-east of England as one of their worship leaders. This album has just been released here in the UK and contains 13 original songs. Liezel has a very pure and clean vocal style, which I found very refreshing to the ear. The music is definitely "MOR" and that should appeal to a whole range of adult listeners. The first track is called "Living in the Sunshine" and it's a catchy, bouncy little number. The same can be said of "That's Why God Made You" as well as the foot tapping "Fix Me". Liezel says that the songs have been written as part of her life-story, through experience and emotions, and the lyrics do seem very personal. "Draw Me Lord" does exactly what the title says, while "If It Hadn't Been For You" gives thanks to God for being in her life. "Heaven" sees her relax into a "lounge bar" singing style which I didn't enjoy so much. Meanwhile, the album closes with the title track which sounds like a spoken Psalm over some nice backing music. Four songs are sung in her native language, but the Cd does come wit a short translation of each, which I found helpful. I certainly thought that the album has a crisp and clear sound, and found it a joy to listen to. Liezel is a welcome addition to the UK CCM scene. 8/10. (October 2006)
If you feel overwhelmed, heavy, or worn down, this song was written for you. The heart behind “As You Are” is the same heart behind the story of Life.Church. It’s the musical expression of the vision to create a place where everyone’s welcome—no matter who they are or where they’ve been. We don’t have to fix ourselves to be welcomed into the presence of God. He invites us to come to Him with our doubts and our burdens. He’s a safe place for us to wrestle with our questions. He is always there to lift us up and lovingly guide us toward the abundant life He has for each of us. This is my first taste of music from Life.Church Worship, and I’m very impressed. The song is relatively slow in tempo, and the lead vocals make sure that all the lyrics are heard clearly. “There’s no need for any hiding. In the Father’s House, you’re met with open arms. He gives grace without conditions. As you are, with nothing else. Just come.” Mid-song there’s a touch of gospel injected into proceedings, with the lovely addition of choir voices. It all makes for a very good song of worship. 9/10. (February 2021)
LIFE CHURCH : Dance Again. (Integrity : B00J5VVESM) .
I must admit to not being a big fan of dance music in any shape or form whatsoever, so I was not really looking forward to reviewing this album. However, I have to say that on the whole I enjoyed listening to it. The album opens with a fast number called “Alive Inside” which is quite an anthemic worship song, with a catchy synth hook running through it. In fact I’m not sure that I would call this CD dance music really, most of the songs are straightforward rock / pop arrangements. There’s a good selection of songs on here, some are fast upbeat numbers, and some are slower. More contemplative worship songs. The outstanding tracks for me being “The promise isn’t over” and the final track “Emmanuel” which are both among the slower songs The lyrics to most of the songs are simple to pick up, and you can easily worship along with this CD. So definitely a pleasant surprise this one. You can find it as a download on iTunes, I’m assuming that it will be out on CD too, although I couldn’t find anything on the album website to confirm this one way or another. It’s certainly worth a listen if you can find it though. 9/10 Andy Sayner. Editor’s Note: The CD version was released on 26th May. (June 2014)
LIFE WORSHIP : Wide Open Space.   (Integrity Music)
This is a dance worship album admittedly, and I would expect the drums and bass to be fairly up front in the mix, but on a lot of the songs on this album they drown out the words far too much. And there is in the background on a lot of the songs some kind of choir effect, which detracts from the lead vocals somewhat. It might be fine on the odd track, but when it appears as often as it does here it gets a bit boring. The actual lyrics themselves are fine, very heartfelt and well written worship songs, I just don’t like the arrangements. The slower tracks are better in my opinion, as the endless rhythm is absent, in fact the track “With Me Always” is by far the most musical track on the album. It’s not the kind of album that you can put on in the background and forget about, most of the songs are too much in your face for that, maybe you could listen in the car while driving or something. I admit to not liking dance music much to start with, and to be fair I don’t want to slam this album just because I don’t personally like it. I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of people younger than I am who will think it’s really good, and it must be said that there is an energy about the music that does give it some appeal. So if you like your dance music give it a go, if like me you prefer rock and roll, you might want to think twice. 6/10   Andy Sayner. (July 2016)
LIFE WORSHIP : Speak to the Storm. (Integrity)
The fourteen track 'Speak to the storm' is the latest release of live Christian worship from Bradford's Life Church. Listening to the album in its entirety it is obvious that Life Church is blessed not only with a great worship band but also a large team of talented vocalists, with eight in all featured here. The 'odd tracks out' are the 'spontaneous worship' of track 5 and the title track spoken word mini-sermon that ends the album, which unfortunately suffers from heavy sibilance on the spoken voice. I'm not really into either of these types of inclusion for a recorded album, as after the first play I tend to skip them because they simply seem to get in the way of enjoying the music. The bulk of the tracks are in some ways what we would expect of a ccm live worship album these days, with a slick and capable worship band featuring prominent bass-heavy drums and bass guitar and heavy compression applied to the recording to make it all sound as loud as possible. Here however the release is made distinctive as the arrangements and production are of a high standard, the songwriting is of a consistently high quality, and the varied vocal deliveries are particularly capable and enjoyable - with a special mention for Eby Corydon who shows herself to be a talented and distinctive vocalist and songwriter. Also, (mercifully!) in this release the compression doesn't result in it all sounding like a messy hash. The standout tracks for me come together i.e. track 3 'Great is your faithfulness' (NOT the well-known hymn!) and track 4 'Miracles happen'. An enjoyable album then, with a clear recommendation. 8/10. Dave Deeks (July 2018)
LIFE WORSHIP : Your Name. (Integrity Music)
LIFE Worship is a fresh sound of modern worship rising up from the heart of LIFE Church in Bradford, England, one of the most vibrant, thriving churches within the UK. All of the songs written by LIFE Worship are heartfelt, honest and life-giving worship. Their new album ‘Your Name’ is a collection of songs that reflect the different angles of God’s majesty revealed in the different layers of the meaning and reality of His name. And, before “yawns” at the thought of just another mega church release, this album really does standalone with its quality and sound. Yes, there are touches, here and there, that I could liken to those aforementioned sounds. But, they are few and far between. For instance, on “Yahweh,” the female vocalist delivers the song in an unmistakable Kim Walker-Smith style. That song is part of a plethora of slow to medium paced songs of worship that includes “Spirit of the Living God; Light Up,” and the rather lengthy, “To Know Your Heart.” The songs have been recorded live, and you really do get a good feel of that sound, especially on “Alpha & Omega.” The myriad voices of those gathered is simply lovely. Recorded at a totally different pace, are the two opening tracks. “Never Let Me Go” is a bouncy, dance orientated number, and “Your Love is Taking Over Me,” follows in similar style. One, negative note? Am I the only one who hears an uncanny resemblance between “Your Name” and Coldplay’s “Christmas Lights?” Otherwise, this album hits just the right notes. 8/10. (July 2020)
Like Dandelion Dust (DVD, Mission Pictures International, Unrated)
It is unusual for me to get to review a movie that has a page on, but then this is an unusual Christian movie. Directed by John Gunn, and based on the novel by Karen Kingsbury, Like Dandelion Dust refuses to wear its faith on its sleeve, although it does play an important role in the story. And it is the moving story and the compelling characters that make it really come alive. We open with two police officers arriving at a run down house and arresting alcoholic husband Rip, played by Barry Pepper (The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan), for abusing his wife Wendy, played by Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite, Norma Jean & Marilyn). During his seven years in prison, Rip cleans up his act and when he discovers on release that Wendy had his child and put him up for adoption while he was incarcerated, he immediately moves to have his son returned to the re-united couple from the idyllic life he is now living with his adoptive parents in Florida. By turns sad, moving, frustrating and heart-warming, the film follows this potential lose-lose situation through heartbreak, legal wrangling, kidnap and violence to its only logical conclusion, which I won’t give away here because it really is worth investing the time to see it yourself.  Christian or otherwise, this is a superb film graced with stunning performances from all the lead actors, particularly Pepper and Sorvino, and it deserved far better than to make back only $350,000 of its $2,500,000 production budget at the US box office. 9/10 David Cooper (May 2012)
LIKE WORSHIP : 30 of Your Most Liked Worship Songs. (Elevation : ELE2008D)
Performed by the Oasis Worship Band, this album contains songs that “the church” likes to sing. The sleeve notes say that it includes “Top ten songs from the CCLI charts, songs from the Official Charts Company, and new songs that everyone is singing. Well, when I began to listen to this 2 Cd collection, I wondered if I was living in some parallel universe, as I’d never heard of many of the songs. In fact the opening two tracks, ‘Your Grace Finds Me’ and ‘Whom Shall I Fear’ were pretty dour. ‘Cornerstone’ was far better. “Christ Alone, cornerstone” is really well crafted and a must for any congregation. Of course, eventually, some well known songs came along. ‘How Great is Our God’ and ‘Mighty To Save’ are performed well – the latter never failing to amaze me as to how powerful it is. There’s some lovely female vocals on ‘Stronger’ written by Reuben Morgan and Ben Fielding, while Fernando Ortega’s ‘Give Me Jesus’ features a superb male voice. From the staple diet of many churches, comes, ‘Let Everything That Has Breath’, ‘Spirit Break Out’ and ‘Blessed Be Your Name’. Meanwhile, I found ‘Our Great God’ quite stirring – written by Ortega and Mac Powell. The classic Delirous? Song ‘Majesty’ gets an outing, but this version doesn’t quite get close to the wonder of its original sound. Listeners will enjoy the comfortable sounds of well known songs, but after a few listens, there are equally some good, new songs that will equip the church to worship. 8/10. (November 2014)
LINCOLN BREWSTER : All to You. (Vertical Music 35622)
Lincoln Brewster has an interesting pedigree, having turned his back on what would surely have been a successful secular music career in order to concentrate on leading worship. Three successful years with ex-Journey frontman Steve Perry are testament to that. This makes for an interesting live worship album, as Lincoln's undoubted talent on the guitar is allowed to shine through. There are numerous guitar solos on this cd, which some people may deem inappropriate, but I would contest that this demonstrates that Lincoln is giving his best and his all to the Lord. The album gets off to a rousing start with one of Lincoln's own songs, "Majestic" and this is followed up by an excellent rendition of Joel Houston's "Everyday". The frenzy continues with "Love the Lord" and the bouncy "All to You" before moving into a period of more reflective worship. This features a version of Marc James' "Surrender", a haunting adaptation of "Great is thy Faithfulness" and one of the albums highlights, a rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Another Hallelujah" (with new lyrics by Lincoln). The album then finishes where it started, with a couple of guitar driven praise numbers. There is much to commend this album, not least Lincoln's unequivocal talent on the guitar which makes this stand out from the ever increasing crowd of live worship albums. The emotion and passion of the occasion are captured well and the production, by Lincoln himself, under the watchful guise of Don Moen and Chris Thomason is first rate. There are a couple of downsides. For me, some of the songs, especially the more reflective ones, don't seem to stand out greatly and are a little derivative. The best numbers are not those written by Lincoln. Secondly, I would like to have seen the whole thing even more guitar driven, in a style akin to that adopted by Paul Oakley, but that really is a personal preference. All in all though, an album that is likely to be the best live worship album of the year, and is just a whisker short of being superlative. 8 ½ /10 Robin Thompson. (December 2005)
LINCOLN BREWSTER : Perfect Love. (Integrity Music)
On first listening, this pop/rock release delivers biblical truths which feels to an old person like me, as if it’s aimed at the next generation. On closer listening, pulling the music apart, seeing how it is constructed, the well thought out arrangements, drums and bass work well together. There are Gospel group backing vocals over occasional clap tracks, too. Chord progressions work well, and it’s nice to hear a screaming guitar featured on some tracks. ‘Who Am I’ stands out for me. Lyrics not too deep, but great reminders of how we found the faith that we cling to. As I thought the song was going to fade it extends with that guitar and wall of sound backing. It’s such a good song. I don’t even mind the ooh ooh oohs!. ‘Let Me Love You’ slows the tempo down on track 5. This time, clean guitar sounds and real drums give warmth to the song. Then the aforementioned screaming guitar starts! ‘If Not For Christ’ is a lovely song. The sound brings in a string quartet with solo cello, mixed with thick backing vocal pads. The best song yet for me, and lyrically very good. I love it. And, just when you think the song is over, an instrumental comes in for last minute – which leaves you both wondering and wanting the story of the song’s title.Nice touch. ‘Surrender’ (My Heart Is Yours) reminded me of Supertramp at times. Chord changes with subtle links, almost humorous musical production/construction. The title track is hidden away as track 10. Halfway through, there is a fantastic bass run under the vocals followed by a guitar solo. It’s another great track, which is followed by the fantastic ‘O How Great.’This is an album that you don’t want to skip a track in case you miss something; either the guitar soloing or a musical variation that catches your ear like the backing vocals structure. 9/10. Noel Donaldson. (June 2021)
LINDSEY GRAHAM : No Greater Song. (
Lindsey Graham is a full-time vocalist pursuing God's call on her life in ministry through music. She is a graduate of Belmont University with a degree in Commercial Vocal Performance, has a Masters in Religion with an emphasis in Worship Studies, and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Worship Studies from Liberty University. Her latest album is called “I Lift My Voice” and from it comes this single release. It’s the sound of a banjo that introduces the song, and its constant plucking carries the song along. Lindsey has strong vocals and I really enjoyed her performance on this southern gospel single. The song itself is all about Jesus. “Sing of our redeemer, sing of His birth and His love.” Be sure that Lindsey loves the Lord and is ready for Him coming in glory. With tracks like “No Greater Song,” her ministry looks set to grow into a thing of beauty. 8/10. (April 2017)
LINS HONEYMAN : The Secret Diary Of A Tunesmith Vol 2.   (Free download  from:
I’ve listed this as “Roots/Acoustic” but it’s far more diverse than that and I kept changing it as the CD went on, but deciding that none were right I left it as the same style as CR’s review of “Vol 1”. Lins Honeyman is a member of the online songwriting collective Tunesmiths in which each member has to write and record a piece in a different genre each month. This is the second volume of material he has released as a result. It’s eclectic, therefore, with some work best described as “experimental”, from the quite odd “The House” (which has echoes of the Beatles’ White Album sonic experiments that you only ever listen to once), to the fairly straight-forward “Home Someday Very Soon”. The 13-track CD contains an Indian piece, a dance track, a minimalist piece and a song inspired by space. Some work better than others, as you would expect from an exercise designed to stretch you as an artist. “How Silently” is a nice Christmas-themed song which deserves wider usage, especially as it moves through juxtaposed images of “how violently” and “how joyfully” and “This Is What It’s Not (A Christmas Rant)” has a great bass line with a vocal that is very reminiscent of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire”. Less successful are the dance track (“Dance”) and the Indian one (for which my keyboard doesn’t have the correct script to type). Best Track: “How Silently”. 5/10 (but mostly because it’s so eclectic) Paul Ganney (July 2016)
LION & BEAR : Lion & Bear. (BEC Recordings)
Lion & Bear present their self-titled EP, a debut that shares songs singing of the unending love of Jesus, songs that offer praise along with lamenting, proclaiming the truth that pain is messy and uncomfortable, and full of hope. I’ve not come across this duo before, but I was instantly impressed by the opening “Greater is He.” Imagine the sound of Third Day, but with a new vocalist, and you get an idea of this song. The duo are Andrew Enos and, bother in law, Michael Landingham. Both men work at their respective churches, and both have experienced devastating losses. They also both share that their unthinkable tragedies were followed by a stark realization: most people don’t know how to grieve. Lion & Bear was fashioned from the ashes of their tremendous anguish as an effort to not only find healing but to share that healing with others. Their message is clear - if you go to the depths of your humanity, God will be there. “Held By Your Love” is a much lighter sound but, nevertheless, quite engaging. “Lighthouse” uses clever lyrics to describe life without Jesus as a shipwreck, lost at sea. And, of course, Jesus becomes your lighthouse and rescuer. It’s certainly not the first song ever to use this analogy, but it’s well produced. Finally, “Stillness” sees the duo sing about resting in the stillness of God. A refrained verse is followed by a full sounding chorus,. “There is nothing I can do, when I’m resting in the stillness.” A great line, and a great song. 7/10. (October 2020)
LION & BEAR : Hollows. (BEC Recordings)
Hollows is the debut album from Southern Californian duo Lion & Bear, aka childhood friends Andrew Enos and Michael Landingham. The band was formed after both guys suffered terrible losses; the hope being to find personal healing and to share that with others. Being born from such a situation might lead to the expectation that lyrics would be very personal and pack a powerful punch and while this was the case for some songs, that couldn’t be said for all as we shall see. The first of the eleven tracks ‘Stillness’ was a very listenable number with the low-key intro and building to a more powerful rising chorus. What did stand out very quickly was the duo’s vocals were very good indeed with a great range with the style more than hinting at an American version of Coldplay. Also very notable was the incredibly high production levels on the track; a theme which would carry through the rest of the album. I do like a polished sound, but this level was overkill really. The next track ‘The Reason’ followed on in a very similar vein and although there was some nice choral colouring in the chorus, I found the lyrics to be a bit generic, sounding much like a plethora of other tunes currently on release. The third track ‘Cling’ sets off at a slightly slower pace but sticks to the ‘power chorus’ formula – again OK but just a bit generic commercial rock. ‘Held By Your Love’ was where I started to notice some of the heartfelt lyrics I’d been expecting given the band’s roots. Instrumentation is very pared-back but given that the lyrics were really soul-bearing, that was certainly the right way to go and gave the track a much more distinctive flavour than the others. Probably my personal track of choice on this album. ‘Trust’ comes back at you with an upbeat, commercial rock sound with ‘Lighthouse’ turning the pace down again with the noticeable elements of a Coldplay tune coming through once again. Maybe a theme developing here? ‘Warrior King’ and the title track ‘Hollows’ continue the theme but by this point I am reaching the stage where I can almost predict the lyrics and what will happen next in the songs. ‘Great Is He’ is OK but isn’t outstanding in any way, either in terms of lyrical which were pretty generic or musical content, with more than a nod to Casting Crowns. As a debut album, ‘Hollows’ doesn’t offend in any way but neither does it stand out from the crowd; sounding lyrically and musically quite ‘samey’ and like a lot of other material out there. These guys are undoubtedly gifted and it would be nice to see a more distinctive style of their own in the band’s next release, without the overdone levels of production. 7/10 Simon Redfern. (August 2021)
THE LION’S ROAR : Moving to Higher Ground. (
The Lion’s Roar are a collection of musicians, from the W.I.N.G.S prophetic prayer movement, which aims to make a contribution in bringing the Kingdom of God to the UK and to other nations through hope. With songs written by Angie Lendon and/or Rob Parker, this 11 song debut comes over, in style, as Deacon Blue meets Mumford & Sons. “He Is Coming” declares the first track, with a triumphant chorus that instantly lifts your spirits. ‘You Set My Feet On Fire’ is one of those songs that bounces along, and will have the listener tapping their feet, and the live audience, jumping up and down in praise. I made a note on hearing this song that the violin was very good during this track. Unfortunately, in other songs, it gets used rather too much and becomes rather annoying at times. ‘God is moving’ is a gentle song, that Angie caresses in a style that she has performed for many years. The harmonies are excellent on ‘Sing O Barren Woman’, while the reprise of ‘Breathe on Us’ spoils what is, otherwise, a lovely song, by the token use of the violin again. ‘Song of Heaven’ was rather bland, compared to the other songs on offer, but ‘Incredible Jesus’ is simply wonderful, and comes over as verging on gospel, in style – a really nice duet here. “I Will Rise Up and Be Strong” is just one of the powerful phrases used in ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, while lastly, comes a song that the violin shines on. My apologies to violinist Ben Couper, as I think that over production of the instrument, elsewhere on the album, is to blame for me tiring of the sound. However, here, it fits perfectly and leads the way to another very good song. I’d like to see The Lion’s Roar, take this music on the road to many venues, as I think that they have every chance of becoming a very good, live ministry band. 8/10. (November 2014)
LISA McCLENDON : Soul Music. (Integrity : 26392)
I didn't hear Lisa's debut album last year but, apparently, it received critical acclaim for her neo-soul style and insightful lyrics. Her influences include Curtis Mayfied, Natalie Cole and Harry Cornick Jnr, and she serves as a worship leader in Jacksonville, Florida. The music isn't, I must say, my favourite genre but I have tried to look beyond my own personal taste to provide this critique. Positively, she does write, or co-write, most of the songs, and they range from "Stuck", a story of love, to "Accountability" and it's plain adgenda. I found the title track to be one of the best on the listing, as it had a catchy feel that easily captured my imagination. "Vibe Out" and "You Are Holy" also had that "certain something" about them, and I found these three the most enjoyable. Other's? Well, perhaps I just couldn't listen as open minded as I would have liked, as too many times I was tempted to reach for the "off" button. 5/10. (February 2004)
Little Room Recordings (Website:
The first thing to say before diving in is that this is not a review of the music presented at the Little Room site, but the site itself, which has undergone a significant revamp. Run by acclaimed and eclectic musician, David Clifton, Little Room was formed in 1993 primarily to release material produced by Clifton and Andy Piercey, and the site offers this and much more besides. The focus is on the sale of music for download and offers a number of file formats, not just the classic mp3 so beloved of most. It is easy to navigate, although the fact that you have to click through to a recording’s purchase page in order to hear a sample can make finding something of interest a fairly drawn out process, and there are clearly marked links to both specific artists and different genres. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the usability of the site, and it works well. However, there are some issues, mainly in the style department. Firstly, it is too text heavy, with even the home page livened up by only a few CD cover thumbnails down the left hand side, and I just didn’t find it very inviting. The designers have gone for a fairly muted choice of colours which is fine, but combined with the predominance of text it comes over as a little dull. More of a problem was the decidedly not dull “hot pink” text on the Library page which, when combined with my minor visual impairment, was almost impossible to read clearly. On the plus side, then, there is plenty of content here that you won’t find on mainstream worship music sites but the look and feel doesn’t grab the attention, which probably won’t encourage visitors to spend the time needed to find something new to listen to. 6/10 David Cooper (November 2012)
THE LITTLE ROY & LIZZY SHOW : Going Home. (Stow Town Records : STR 3187)
Having roots in the heart of the south, Elizabeth Long, or Lizzy as her friends and fans know her was born on a farm in Lincolnton, Georgia. She began her music accomplishment at an early age. Little Roy has won awards as Entertainer as well as for his banjo playing. He has also been inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, This new album is a breath of fresh air, mixing southern and bluegrass gospel. If you like your banjo and fiddle playing, then you’ll love this release. Lizzy has a great vocal quality, and I was hooked, the minute she began singing the title track. I challenge anyone not to find themselves tapping their feet along to “Today Is Gonna Be a Brighter Day.” It’s a super song and well delivered. On the slower side, “That’s the Power of the Blood” tells that Jesus died for everyone, and that all can be saved. Little Roy’s banjo playing is exceptional, and it’s a real highlight of “In A Whirlwind” and “Feels Like Rain.” Late on in the track listing, listeners are treat to some nice slice guitar on the closing “Traveling On.” The music is bright and breezy throughout, and well worth a listen. 8/10. (November 2017)
Little Town Of Bethlehem (DVD, Kingsway)
From the same stable as Beyond The Gates Of Splendour (NFN June 2011) and Miss HIV (NFN July 2011) Little Town Of Bethlehem is another fine piece of documentary film-making that lays bare the realities of a situation that too few in the world truly understand. For many, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict simply appears to be an intractable issue, unsolvable without serious bloodshed on all sides, but this thought-provoking film follows the stories of three men; a Palestinian Muslim, an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian Christian, as they strive for non-violent means to bring peace to their home. The marriage of the honest and passionate words of these men with the dark, and at times brutal, imagery of war, destruction and human suffering is a striking one that serves to bring home just how superficial is our understanding of the issues involved and how deep seated they really are. Together with a soundtrack that is stirring, without getting in the way, the overall effect inspires a feeling that maybe, just maybe, it might be possible for the Holy Land to finally find peace after centuries of struggle. It is stretching the point too far to say that the film is ‘entertaining’, but it is both eye opening and rewarding and it is well worth taking a look at if you have even the slightest passing interest in the Middle East conflict. The DVD itself also features a director’s commentary and a music video set to two different songs from the soundtrack, one in English, one in Arabic. If you value quality documentaries, this one is recommended. 8/10 David Cooper (November 2011)
LIVE WORSHIP : Standing at the Cross. (Elevation : ELE1619D)
Recorded at St Thomas’ Church, Philadelphia, Sheffield, this is the second album in the Worshipping Churches series. Pete James is the worship leader, and he takes centre stage on the opening ‘We Have Come to Worship’. It’s the usual contemporary worship formula, but the song does get a little monotonous towards the end. ‘Our God Is Stronger’ is a brighter number that really draws out some collective worship, and I enjoyed this song immensely. ‘We Believe’ has a few rough edges to it’s recording but, perhaps, that’s what makes the song so endearing. I know people moan about having the same worship songs played to them over and over again, but it does take time for these new tunes to sink in. However, ‘Fill Me’ is so simple to pick up that I can’t see anyone not liking it for worship in the church. The closing songs are a little slower and quieter, as the Pete tries to bring those gathered, closer to God. I’m not sure that it really works, and the songs just close with a whimper, rather than glory. It’s a brave try from a buoyant church, and maybe the album deserves a few more plays. 6/10 (March 2012)
Never heard of New Horizon? Me neither. So, for the uninitiated, New Horizon is a 7 day interdenominational Christian event held at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. Last year's event saw David Lyle Morris and Ian Hannah lead the worship, which attracts some 4,000 people each day. "All Hail the power of Jesus' Name" is a favourite hymn of mine but I had never heard it sung like this before. It was a truly amazing rendition, and that song alone hooked me into some great personal worship. All too often, live praise albums are just like the last one but, not this one. It was really good to hear some new songs (to me) like "Father We Dedidcate". If I was from Australia, I would call it "a beaut". "Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit" is a tremendous song, and the feeling of those gathered just leaps from the album into your soul. There is really so much strong, pure worship and praise on this album that I could go on and on about it's content. Let me say no more, then, than this is a top notch release. 10/10. (February 2003, Album of the Month)
LIVING FIRE : Jesus Rules. (
This was my third attempt to review this CD – the first was blank and the second the dog put her teeth through. It was worth the wait, though. This CD is a “take no prisoners” powerpunk explosion. Leaping out of the case with a great 9-note riff and a repeated “Jesus Is Not Dead” (the title of the opening track) you know what you’re in for. This is not a sit-back-and-listen CD, it’s a leap-around-the-room-not-caring-who’s-watching CD. It is a wall of sound, solid Ramones-style rhythm, no-nonsense drumming, driving bass and uncompromising vocals (Sham 69 being my closest comparison). The CD is Buzzcocks with a better guitar sound and Ramones with more to say (see “Adore The Lord” for a good example). Damned with faint praise? No way – Damned with serious praise: powerpunk isn’t a cerebral lyrics style, it’s a get-the-message-over-quickly genre and this delivers in (ace of) spades. Covering classics was a hallmark of 70s punk and Living Fire do it with “Old Rugged Cross” (yes, the old hymn) – I can’t see many churches singing this arrangement, but I liked it. They even have a go at Napalm Death-ism with the 22 second 120mph “He Will Come Again” and Undertones with “Redemption Of His Love” (vocally bearing probably a bit too much resemblance to “Needles And Pins” by the Searchers). There’s only one guitar solo on the entire CD and that’s at the end of the final track. Classic. Best track: “One Way”. 8/10. Paul Ganney. (July 2014)
LIVING HOPE : With Faith. (CD : £5 from R & H Thompson, 199 De La Pole Avenue, Hull, Yorkshire, England, HU3 6RF)
For their first venture into the world of traditional praise and worship, husband and wife duo - Robin & Helen Thompson - have released this mini album containing 7 self-penned songs. Also available is an accompanying songbook containing full lyrics, guitar chords and acetate masters - a boom for church worship leaders. It's primarily Helen that does the singing, with Robin concentrating on his excellent guitar work. "Almighty God" and "You Have Broken Me" are simple acoustic numbers, both worshipping the Lord, and doing a fine job too. "Here We Stand" is my favourite. It's an uptempo number that has a catchy chorus, and you can easily see many congregations praising with this! As fine as Robin's vocals are, his "Mighty King", I'm afraid, seems to be quite a struggle and doesn't work for me. On the other hand, there's never been a question about the power of Helen's vocal chords, only now there seems to be a mature warmth with them, too. If you long for good old fashioned p&w, you won't be disappointed. 8/10. (December 2002)
LIVING HOPE : Chronicles. (
Hull's Robin & Helen Thompson have been on the Christian music scene for many years. Stalwarts of bands such as Medieval Fete, Trinity, and Giants Will Fall, for the past 15 years, they have been quietly going about their business as an acoustic duo. Their first CD, "With Faith" contained a mixture of pop and folk songs, and it's the latter style in which the couple seem to have settled with on this album. Proceedings begin with a re-working of the ancient hymn 'Amazing Grace'. If you thought that you knew the hymn well, then, think again. The words are sung to a completely new tune and has been met, so far, with very positive feedback. 'Better Place' is an uptempo number where Helen sings that being in God's heart is better place". Her voice is at it's best on 'Watch The Sunrise'. Helen's gentle tones are caressed by Robin's backing vocals, and some warm string sounds. Once or twice I found the mix of the vocals to be a little low, and found it difficult to hear some of the words in 'This Song's For You'. Robin's guitar playing never falters and he's ably accompanied by his wife's skilful playing of various whistles. The beat is fairly steady through the album, but the blues tinged 'I Want You' does move the pace on a little. US singer/songwriter J.Brian Hill joins them on the closing song - a well produced version of 'Be Thou My Vision', which I can see going down well, live. Living Hope remind me, a little, of Anam Caras. It's a simple album, but there's a lot of quality within, and should appeal to many. 9/10 (August 2010)
LIZ CLARK : Path of Dreams.   (
Although this is Liz’s first album release with Plankton Records, it is, in fact, her fifth full length album. Honing her musical gift and talents through numerous gigs and events across the UK and USA, this Belfast born lady brings to the table, a musical style that I find difficult to name. Yes, there’s a touch of Celtic melody here and there but it’s really a very individual sound. The choppy beat of ‘Holy Holy’ is a perfect vehicle for Liz’s powerful vocals, and on ‘Brand New Day’ her voice literally soars with distinct phrases. Writing with producer Paul Mcllwaine, the pair of them certainly know how to bring the best out of each song. Multi instrumentalist Mcllwaine is a gem of an artist, and his guitar playing, first class. ‘Pure’ is a simply beautiful song, with Liz’s exquisite vocals leading you through some brilliant instrumentation. On ‘Holy Rain’, the song almost breaks into mainstream pop, and there are some really nice rhythms included too. Quieter songs such as ‘Whispers of Love’ fit nicely in the track listing, while the more radio friendly ‘Only You’ rounds off this album of faith songs. If you’re expecting something in the mould of Moya Brennan or Joanne Hogg, then think again. Liz Clarke provides something a little out of the ordinary for you to meditate on.   8/10. (September 2012)
LIZ CLARKE : Destiny. (
Northern Ireland’s Liz Clarke follows up her 2011 release, ‘Path of Dreams’ with this 10 track album. In contrast to her previous album, there’s less emphasis on the contemporary celtic style, and more a leaning to rhythm & blues. Saying that, there’s a definite 70’s progressive rock sound to the opening ‘Driftin’ Sun’. The Robert Burns poem ‘Red Red Rose’ is put to a gentle acoustic guitar backing and on this track, Liz’s vocals are perfect. There’s not any real overtly Christian message in any of the songs, but I thought that ‘My Destiny’ could well have told the story of the search for Christ in one’s life. There’s some nice guitar work from co-songwriter, Paul Mciwaine, on a blues version of George Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’. Here, the vocals soar and wrap themselves lovingly around each word. ‘Burning With the Blues’ gets a mention for being one of the most miserable songs I’ve ever heard, but Liz redeems herself with the wistful, celtic lament ‘She Moved Through the Fair’. I’m not quite sure of the track listing itself because, towards the end of the album, the guitar solo’s of Mcilwaine become rather repetitive and intrusive. On songs like ‘Threw It All Away’ (a 12 bar blues), ‘When You Are Near’ and ‘It Will Be Alright’ the guitar really detracts from Liz’s voice and sometimes sounds alien to the track.. The result is a pity, for me, as the basic love song, that is, ‘When You Are Near’ is a lovely number. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that Liz, herself, has a terrific voice that commands a larger audience. 7/10. (June 2014)
LLEF (The Cry) : Sound of Wales.   (Elevation : ELE1680D)
Sound of Wales are more than just a worship band, they are a worship ministry, a collective of musicians based in Wales who want to be part of revealing Jesus glory to the earth. They are about impacting communities with the power of music and training up the next generation of worship leaders. And now they have collectively released a worship album. The four main musicians involved in this project are Cath Woolridge, Jon Goode, Mark Galozzi-Hibbert and Rachel Mathias though there are many others than contribute to the album including the Dependent Sessions Male Voice Choir – well you cant have an album from Wales without one can you?! It features a collection of eleven songs written by the team (though mainly Cath and Jon) and some traditional hymns in a contemporary style. Of the latter you will find Stuart Hine's arrangement of “How Great Thou Art” and the undervalued “Here is Love Vast as The Ocean” with lyrics in Welsh and English. There are Celtic nuances in the sound, unsurprisingly, but it is not strongly a Celtic album. For the most part though, it does seem to offer a fresh perspective on contemporary worship – there is definitely a “sound of Wales” in there – and Cath's mezzo vocals are a welcome change to the more regular and ubiquitous sopranos that usually take centre stage. “Your Way, Yahweh” and “Romans 8”  are the stand out original pieces for me and although it seems to lose a little consistency of style towards the end, it is a an excellent debut.   8/10   Robin Thompson. (November 2012)
LOCAL SOUND : Sunday School. (Integrity Music)
Former Nashville College students, LOCAL SOUND have released their second EP, Sunday School, on July 19th. True to the title, Sunday School takes five of the group's favourite worship songs from their childhoods recorded with Local Sound's pop worship spin. The band must be congratulated on reworking these songs but, I wondered, does it work? The result is, that the jury’s undecided, here at NFN Towers. “Angus Dei/The Heart of Worship” is done very well. Beginning with acappella FX vocals, the song moves into an electronic bridge, before resting with one single voice. It’s pure, and it’s simple, but well done. The band seem to like their atmospheric sounds, and they’re quite prominent in their version of “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever.” It’s a bright, pop version, yet quite different to the Delirious? Style that we’ve all come to love and know. I’d not heard of “Let My words Be Few” but Emily Wyant’s vocals are so sweet. Indeed, this was my favourite song of the EP. Paul Baloche lends his vocal prowess to “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” but somehow it comes out as a very weak number. Finally, Local Sound try their hand at “Shout to the Lord.” I wish they hadn’t. There’s nothing wrong with Wyant’s vocals again, but the backing music is so disjointed that it sounds very messy overall. Summing up, the band have had a great idea. Some songs worked, but others didn’t. I’ve not heard any of their other music, so it will be interesting to see those bright ideas put to original material. 6/10. (August 2019)
LOCAL SOUND : So In Love (House Church) (Integrity Music)
Marking the continuity of their bold exploration of multi-faceted worship, the single is said to reflect the heart of the Nashville-based band who are set on forging the culture of the Kingdom through worship that mixes cultures and genres locally and globally. The sound reminded me, a little, or early Maroon 5 songs, although the backing singers sound more like a football crowd. Lead singer, Jared Runion, has a lazy sound to his voice, which I wasn’t too keen on. “I’m so in love with You,” is the main thrust of the lyrics, but the whole thing was rather bland in production. 5/10. (August 2020)
LOCAL SOUND : This is My Local. (Integrity Music)
After many prolific years of singles and EP releases, Local Sound explore new horizons with their first full length record, one that unveils more of their heart for Christ-centred communities. I’d not heard much of the band’s previous releases, so wasn’t too sure what to expect. The energetic opener ‘To the King’ has lots of keyboards sounds that reminded me of 80’s band Hue & Cry. Similarly, the following ‘More Than Halfway’ had traits of Kim Boyce songs from the same decade, complete with female vocals. Now, ‘To Be Loved’ is bang up to date, with a contemporary worship feel. A mid-tempo song, it celebrates being loved by our Saviour, and is really well produced. This type of song is repeated with the duet ‘Time and Time Again’ which I found to be quite powerful in it’s make up. It’s this phase of the album that I found most appealing. I don’t have vocal credits for each track, but the lead performance of the female on ‘My Confidence’ is simply superb. Lyrically, it’s a strong song with words such as “God take my life and make it evidence of your goodness.” Songs like ‘Forevermore’ revert to that 80’s feel. Now, I loved a lot of the music from that time but, are we currently in an 80’s revival? So, a mixed bag from Local Sound, that shows their song diversity, but didn’t quite do it for me. 6/10. (September 2022)
LONDON COMMUNITY GOSPEL CHOIR : 21st Anniversary Concert Live at Abbey Road. (Kingsway : KMCD2844)
Together with some of the many great artists they have worked with over the years, this album sees the London Community Gospel Choir celebrate it's 21st birthday. It's a couple of years since I saw the choir live in my home town and, then, they really blew away a packed audience. Their delivery compares pretty well with that of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and there's a fair range of songs on this album. 'How I Got Over' and 'Faith' are typical gospel numbers, and the choir deliver them very well. Then, it's time for the first guest, Paul Carrack, with a great version of 'The Living Years'. As the track listing went on, I realised that I was enjoying the guest tracks more than those by the choir on their own. Both Matt Redman and Martin Smith take the lead on 'Blessed Be Your Name' and 'I Could Sing of Your Love Forever', and these were very enjoyable. Of the other songs, I quite liked the electro-funk sound on 'Dance' but I failed to get as excited as I had at the live event. The package comes with a DVD of the concert but none of my media players were able to play the disc. 6/10 (May 2008)
LONDON COMMUNITY GOSPEL CHOIR : Glorious. (Anthemic Music : ANT2010CD1)
When I saw this choir perform live a few years ago, I was struck by the sheer joy that they exuded to those gathered. Not a particular lover of this kind of music, I soon found myself joining in with most of the songs. The question for me with this recording was, "Could that same joyous feeling be replicated to CD"? Well, the choir do their very best to prove the point when they open with U2's 'One'. It's very well sung, and I like this version so much more than the original. Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' was played to death last Christmas on UK TV and Radio through three different versions. Perhaps, then, it wasn't the best thing to do on this album. For me, it was a complete turn off. Similarly, I found the mellow and rather refrained version of 'When the Saints Go Marching In' to be rather ordinary. Things do lift with the unmistakable guest vocals of Paul Carrack, on 'Soul to Soul'. The Beatles' 'Let It Be' is the next song to get the gospel treatment and, although there's nothing wrong with the vocals, the production is less than inspiring. Acappella tracks such as 'Glory, Glory, Hallelujah' and 'Down in the River to Play' fair quite well but I felt that songs like 'Now That We've Found Love' and 'Abide With Me' just lacked any real purpose. The closing 'God is Love' is obviously meant to be a big number but I thought that a messy production and too many individual lead vocals spoilt it. So, to answer my question; only in parts, did this album bring joy. 6/10 (August 2010)
THE LONELY REVOLTS : Broken Bones Burning Hearts. (
This is a punk band, make no mistake. And that’s punk as in the spirit of 1976 rather than the rather more glossy stuff of the same label these days. Thin lead guitar sounds (composed of short riffs), fast distorted playing behind a half-shouted, half-sung lead vocal. The backing vocals are chanted, not sung. And only 2 songs make it to over 3 minutes in length. Lyrically it’s right, too: “we’re all gonna die” (“Open Graves”) is not your Hillsongs-type refrain. When they chant “Alleluia” it’s with an edge of defiance. And their idea of slow is reserved purely for intros (e.g. “Inside Job”). If there’s a criticism it’s that there’s an element of sameness to a lot of the material: the tracks tend to merge one into another in your memory. Overall, think Sham 69, Buzzcocks, the Damned, Bill Mason Band (and the “I’ve got a problem” on “Falling Apart” is pure Johnny Rotten). If you loved them you’ll love these guys: I did. Best track: “Check Your Pulse”. 7/10. Paul Ganney. (April 2015)
LONESOME RIVER BAND : Singing Up There – A Tribute to the Easter Band. (Mountain Home Music Company)
Legendary bluegrass band, Lonesome River Band (LRB) are celebrating their 40th anniversary by paying tribute to one of Gospel music’s most enduring band the Easter Brothers. Here are 10 tracks that have plenty of banjo and fiddle playing included. These are all fresh songs to me, and I’m sure that I won’t be the only one hearing them for the first time. Many of the tracks, such as “Little at a Time” and “I’m On The Last Mile” run for less than 3 minutes. This means that the messages are short and snappy, which I found really appealing. Foot tappers like “Standing on the Banks” have a happy feel to them and the instrumental breaks are great. Vocally, there’s some super harmonies, too. The pace slackens with “Lord I’m Just a Branch,” but things soon pick up again, with “Every Minute Means a Mile.” Other tracks of quality include “I’m Gone, Gone, Gone” and “Almost Home.” Total running time is less than 30 minutes, but that was my only moan about this quality recording. 8/10. (August 2021)
THE LONGING: The Longing. (Authentic (6100101)
Out there in the big wide world of worship music, it's often hard to find something that stands out from the crowd for all the right reasons, but I believe The Longing have cracked it with their self-titled debut album. The longing are a 4 piece band from Nashville who play as if they've been together for years. The lead singer & main songwriter Jason Ingram has released his own solo material whilst also having written for the likes of Rebecca St James; not a bad pedigree with the other band members also being seasoned pros, which shines through in every song without exception. The opening track "Heal This Land" lulls you into a false sense of security with a gentle melodic intro before launching into a rocky chorus with some force (and very effective that is too). The next track "Salvation Songs" follows on in a similar vein - not a quite such a pace, but keeping your head nodding away all the same. Even the old classic "To God Be The Glory" gets a reworking. Most CDs I have contain a couple of corkers that I tend to play over and over again, but this is a rarity in that I can listen all the way through without fiddling with the repeat buttons. The Longing's style is a mixture of Delirious, Sonic Flood & to a lesser extent Vineyard, producing some very strong phrases that'll have you singing along & tapping away without realising. All but 2 songs have been written by the frontman Jason & he successfully manages to remain original with his lyrics, steering well clear of tired & clichéd worship fayre which is a huge blessing in most listeners' books! One that has to go to the top of the pile. Can't wait to see what else they're going come up with. 10/10 Simon Redfern (June 2007, Album of the Month)
LOOSE GOOSE : 'Break Over Me'. (Loose Goose/Nelson Word)
Imagine Iona playing a set of contemporary praise and worship songs, and you've got a good idea about how Loose Goose sound. With both current and ex-members of the aforementioned band providing the music, it's not surprising that we've got that sort of sound here. LG are three members of the worship team at Holy Trinity Brompton's first church plant, St. Barnabas. It is an album of p&w, and opens with the enigmatic 'Show Me Your Ways'. Carolyn Stillwell's vocals are the strongest of those on offer, and she really shines out on 'Back to Avalon' and 'Eternity' where the voice is very Cheresque. This latter song is probably the pick of the pile and many will instantly join in the chorus of 'No more tears, no more pain, no more fear, no more shame'. If you like the quieter, atmospheric type of worship, you'll like this a lot! 7/10. (November 1996)
LORDSONG : Refuse to Be Afraid. (Daywind : 8713162)
After hearing the great track "While I Wait" on a Daywind sampler, I was really looking forward to some terrific southern gospel from this new trio. Sadly, I'm still waiting. Not that I really dislike any of the other tracks, it's just that they're all a bit too thin. In fact, the album was over before I realized that I'd heard every track. "Empty Fields", "He Didn't Have the Heart" and "Nothing Compares" just don't ever rise above average. Inspirationally, only the aforementioned "While I Wait" did anything for me. As for the rest? I guest they would be okay in a shopping mall. 3/10 (November 2003)
THE LORE FAMILY : The World Needs a Song.   (Horizon Records)
The Lore Family consists of Darren, Sandy, Fayth, Jake, and Samuel. They reside in the southern city of Portsmouth, Ohio. Over the past several years, The Lore Family have ministered in hundreds of services, and sing a variety of music including; classic & current southern gospel favourites, as well as, originals written by Darren. The title track of the album is a good place to start. Bouncy and engaging, it has a certain something. ‘Hope Arose’ is more of a ballad, complete with orchestral sounds providing the backing. ‘Great is His Faithfulness’ is a power ballad that suffers from some rather bad vocal tuning mid-song. This song also signalled the start of a rather bland collection of songs. The soulful ‘Run to the Throne’ is sung quite well, but the tune is really sombre. That’s followed by the lethargic ‘Would Someone Go Summon the Angels’ which, at times, sounds very much like the Farron Young classic ‘It’s 4 in the Morning.’ The bio of The Lore Family says that they minister “all ages.” Frankly, on this outing, I can’t see many young people enjoying the songs. Sadly, I was rather bored by the end of the track listing.   4/10. (March 2022)
Loriaan was born and raised in South Africa. Singing since the young age of 3, her earliest memory of singing, was when her father used to play Lionel Richie. She used to belt out at the top of her voice to, “You are my Destiny”. From that moment onwards she knew she wanted to be a singer. Loriaan’s contemporary gospel songwriting reflects everyday life issues and the joy of having a relationship with Jesus Christ. Indeed, it sounds like a very personal album, written from the heart. For the most part, it’s a pleasant pop collection of songs with a mixture of uptempo and slower songs. The opening ‘Everlasting God’ is very pleasing to the ear, as is ‘Hallelujah to the King’. The latter is quite catchy but suffers from a rather weak ending. The title track is a ballad and really shows off Loriaan’s vocal quality to the full. Praising Jesus, the song is performed with real feeling, and should be a hit with most listeners. With Phil Goss producing and providing most of the instruments, the album is quite a polished affair. Songs like ‘In Your Name’ and ‘New Sound’ are very appealing, and the gentle ‘It’s Your Love’ flows effortlessly and caresses each word. The simplicity of ‘You Alone’ is the song’s real strength, with Nancy Sawyer making a guest appearance on piano. Closing proceedings is another fine song. ‘Jesus’ has a great hook, a well thought out middle eight, and is just one of those songs you immediately want to play again. A couple of songs didn’t quite meet the grade but, really, maybe I’m being too picky. Well worth a listen. 8/10. (December 2011)
LOU FELLINGHAM : Promised Land. (Kingway : KMCD2853)
Lou Fellingham is, perhaps, best known for being the lead singer of top UK band Phatfish. However, her debut solo album of 2006, 'Treasure', created such a stir, that she's been flown out to Los Angeles this time to record her follow up. Along with husband Nathan, she's joined by some terrific musicians, and co-writes most of the songs. And, when the music starts, it's pretty powerful stuff. The title track stirs you into praise, while 'Come Let Us Enter' really motors along. Lou has sung on a lot of praise compilations over the years, and it's a credit to her that her voice is so sharp and clear. She has blossomed into a fine singer and is at her best on songs like 'Mercy From the Throne' and the bouncy, 'Breathe'. Of the ten songs featured, the first five are very strong, so I'm somewhat bewildered that the second half of the album tails away with some lesser quality songs. Indeed, I found little to get excited about after track five. The album has already topped the Christian charts in the UK, so it's evident that I may be missing something in my critique. However, for me, it's only 6/10. (September 2008)
LOU FELLINGHAM : The Best of…Live! (Kingsway : KWCD3301)
Regular readers of these columns will be aware that I rate Lou Fellingham highly, considering her to have one of the best voices on the CCM scene. In this two-cd release we revisit well known ancient and modern church anthems as well as 'Fellingham family' material featuring its usual intelligent, bible-based lyrics – all beautifully delivered within carefully worked arrangements. Emphasising just how capable Lou is as a singer and worship leader not only within the Phatfish environment but also as a solo artist, there really isn't a poor track here. The 8 minute 'See the Lamb of God' is an excellent example of a mini-sermon in a strongly melodic song, delivered worshipfully and note-perfect. An over-7-minute version of 'There is a day' is also included – a particular favourite of mine that I long ago decided I would have at my funeral! 'God immortal' includes a prayerful centre section that then builds before dropping back to the original verse and chorus and ending with a call to 'come and worship Him in His majesty'. 'Holy Holy' is superb, featuring a particularly strong 'Chris Eaton – like' grumbling bass arrangement that builds and builds. A complete contrast that spotlights the quality of Lou's vocals is the stripped-down piano and voice of 'God of mercy (prayer song)'. Sounding coherent in a way that many 'compilations' do not, and with consistently good sound quality, this is overall an excellent release. The review copy was supplied as downloadable tracks so with no indication of whether the CD booklet includes lyrics etc – but in the hope that it does, worth a comfortable 10/10. Dave Deeks (August 2012)
LOU FELLINGHAM : This Changes Everything. (Integrity).
Here’s the first single to come from Lou Fellingham’s eagerly awaited live album of the same name. After quietly spoken phrases of “Jesus is alive” and becoming “alive in Jesus,” she launches into a number that sounds as if it’s come straight from Jesus Culture. From my first listen, all I could compare it to was Kim Walker Smith. The song builds well throughout and Lou’s vocals are crisp and clean. Instrumentally, the backing, is fine and the resulting recording obviously goes down well with those gathered. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the album sounds like. 7/10. (April 2017)
LOU FELLINGHAM : This Changes Everything. (Integrity)
Two years after the release of her last album, Fascinate, Lou Fellingham returns with This Changes Everything. Recorded live at the Old Market Theatre in her native Brighton, Lou’s sixth solo album captures her in her element: worshipping with a full band, among old friends, using new songs to communicate timeless truths. A lot of the tracks sound very much like similar releases from Jesus Culture. Were as they have Kim Walker Smith, Lou takes control of these song with her own, fine, voice. “Praise the Name of Jesus” is the first song, and is quite quiet in presentation. The other extreme is the pace of which “The Final Say” races along. Lou sings of the promise that God is with you at all times on “Turn My Life Around,” while “Strong to Deliver” sees her duet with a male singer. Then comes the albums ‘purple patch.’ “Everlasting Arms” sounds like one of the great hymns of our past in presentation. It flows majestically with lyrics such as “Lean on the everlasting arms” and “Your mercy flows like a river.” In similar vein, “Lord I Need You” comes across with great power within. Sandwiched between those two tracks is the gentle “Speak”, which is all about listening to God. These three songs are, for me, the pick of the album. Of the others, “Tapestry” starts off okay, but seems to go on forever, losing its way, halfway through. Then, there’s “Sweet Surrender.” It’s repetitive chorus and unimaginative lyrics are laid on a bed of funky rhythms that sound like some 70’s disco tune. It’s not a bad album, but I’d preferred to hear more songs that didn’t sound the same. 7/10. (May 2017)
LOU FELLINGHAM : Ultimate Collection. (Integrity Music)
Lou Fellingham is a name I’ve known for more years than I like to think about, but I can’t claim to be particularly familiar with her work. Therefore an album called “Ultimate Collection” is the ideal introduction. The songs are selected from her four studio albums, plus a live version of “There Is A Day” recorded at Abbey Road studios (probably the only song – aside from “To God Be The Glory” – I recognised). The tracks are generally in a pop/rock style (tending more towards the former) at either a mid-tempo pace or a gentler ballad one. This makes them very easy to sing along with, which is ideal for worship (the build on “I Will Say” is a good example of this). The arrangements are very uncomplicated, focussing on supporting Lou’s excellent voice meaning that it’s very easy to miss some of the nice touches going on in the background (the guitar work on “This Is My Worship” for example, which soars beautifully as Lou reaches out in praise). Thematically the lyrics are very modern, meaning that they tend to focus on our reaction to God and His Love rather than taking a theological stance more akin to classic hymns (aside from “To God Be The Glory”, of course), with the need for rescue in our weakness being a particular theme explored. There’s a guest vocal from Jake Isaac on “Sacrifice” which works very well with the stripped back piano and strings arrangement. I wasn’t too sure about the arrangement of “To God Be The Glory” in which the style of words didn’t really seem to sit with the style of backing, something that only got strengthened by the new chorus they’d written for it which seemed so much better – maybe they should just have written a completely new song? That said, it’s a far better rendition than the ones I first heard in churches in the 1970s, so on balance won me over in the end. Lou and her band are very accomplished, as the live “There Is A Day” demonstrates amply – I guess they tell you it was recorded live, otherwise you’d find it hard to tell. Overall I quite liked this album, but not enough to go and check out the others. If, like me, you’ve heard of Lou but are unfamiliar with her work then this is a very good place to start. Best track: This Is My Worship. 6/10. Paul Ganney (December 2018)
LOU FELLINGHAM : Made For You. (Integrity)
I have long been a fan of Lou Fellingham, originally in her role as lead singer of the Brighton-based Fellingham family band Phatfish and more recently as a solo artist. Early Phatfish songs tended towards the jazz-funk vein, gradually giving way over time to a more rock-pop sound. After many years of active ministry Phatfish called it a day in early 2014 with the release of their final album, a double, the excellent 'Phatfish Live'. Lou however continues with her already established solo career - this 11 track release being her latest. It is no surprise to find the songs to be intelligently written, and lyrically the whole album is very positive. As the press release puts it ... "The overarching theme of the album is God’s greatness and goodness ... Jesus is everything and has done everything needed for us to live.” Arrangements and musicianship are also as usual to a high standard, and overall I find it difficult to select standouts. 'Miracle or not' brings touches of Phatfish's more jazz oriented period. 'Jesus you're with us' is a high point with particularly thoughtful lyrics and great repeating chorus. 'I will go' is a song of commitment that is still going round in my head as I type. The slower paced 'Keeper of my heart' is classic Lou Fellingham and features some brilliant lead guitar in the climax towards the end. An excellent album then, including the fact that most of the time sound quality is pretty good - although it does sometimes become distorted on louder passages. This aside, a definite 10/10. Dave Deeks (May 2019, Album of the Month)
LOU FELLINGHAM : Lean on the Everlasting Arms – Hymns Vol.1.   (Wings Music Group)
Here’s a 13 track album, featuring Lou & Nathan Fellingham. Lou says; “"Lockdown has created so many challenges, but for us, being able to regularly worship together in our home, and to be able to invite people to join us through live streaming has been an incredible blessing amid the difficulty. We felt that recording a collection of hymns, in the style that we have been using week by week in Come and Sing and now Worship Wednesdays, would be something that might be appreciated. So Nathan set about constructing the arrangements on the piano". There’s never been a question about the voice of Lou, but this stripped-back recording shows a delightful purity in it. Both the opening ‘My Hope is Built’ and ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ set the tone for the whole listing. As well playing the piano, Nathan joins Lou on a number of songs, including ‘O For A Thousand Tongues’ and the lovely ‘Everlasting Arms.’ Other hymns include ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness; To God Be the Glory; and Nothing But the Blood of Jesus.’ The overall feel of this collection is one of gentle peace and I, for one, enjoyed listening.   8/10.    (January 2022)
LOUISE GREGG : Constant. (
Here we have the five track debut from Manchester Vinelife Church based songwriter/musician/music therapist Louise Gregg. Self-produced, with friends contributing and mastered by Dan Stirling Audio, 'Constant' represents an excellent 25 minute introduction to Louise's music ministry. She is a strong songwriter from the 'personal experience' viewpoint, "Each track was birthed out of significant moments in my journey over the last few years .... Every song is filled with victories won and freedom that I've journeyed into." Louise has a lovely voice - a sort of Louise Fellingham but without her huskiness! All five tracks represent beautifully presented contemporary Christian 'pop' - acoustic, electric and bass guitars, keyboards, drums - and it is difficult to select a standout. Lyrically my two favourites are probably track 2 'Heart runs to' (with the repeated line "You've never failed and you never will") and track 5 'Constant friend' ("Jesus you are better than I could imagine and I know all I've seen is a glimpse"). It is a shame that despite being pretty good sound-wise the odd word is difficult to pick out, particularly as there are no printed lyrics that I could find. Overall however I enjoyed this release and I would like to think it won't be long before we see a full album from Louise. 9/10 Dave Deeks (October 2017)
LOUNGE WORSHIP Vol.3 : Chill Out Celebration. (Spark : SK7184)
The sleeve notes on this CD describe it as "Songs of worship and inspiration to help you find a quiet space and time in the fast paced and noise filled world of today" It's full of dreamy synth pads, saxophones, and boring vocals. To be honest I've heard more inspiring lift music. This CD is a complete bore from start to finish. The choice of songs is a bit strange too, "Lovely Day" by Bill Withers, and "I Belong To You" which is a Lenny Kravitz song to name a couple, but the really strange one is Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody" not the kind of track you'd expect on a CD like this, and it doesn't work at all. It's a long CD too running in at well over an hour long, and if there was any real variation between the tracks it wouldn't be so bad, but it just seems to drag on forever. I fell asleep listening to it twice before making it all the way through, so I guess as chill out music it does have the desired effect. At one point I was wondering when the first track was going to end, when I looked at the CD player I realised that we had actually made it to track three and I hadn't noticed, as there was no noticeable change of tempo, style or choice of instruments at all. There is no band name to be found anywhere on this album, just a list of the musicians who played on it. So I'm guessing that it's probably an idea that originated in a church somewhere, which is fine, a lot of good worship CD's have been produced that way. I'm just not sure that this is one of them though. 3/10 Andy Sayner. (May 2006)
LOVE & THE OUTCOME : More Than This. (
Canada’s Love & the Outcome are Jodi King and Chris Rademaker. Looking back on their release history, I wonder why I’ve never come across their music before. Jodi has a great voice, and the musical sound is very radio friendly. Listening to these songs as we go through these current times (Coronavirus) Love & the Outcome gave me a welcome lift. Beginning with “Where You Are,” the duo tell of being thankful for where you are in life, rather than chasing impossible dreams that the material world says that you need. The title track reminds us that God loves us unconditionally, while “Same Page” comes across as a prayer to our Father. [I,m] “Tired of going my own way; help me hear what You say.” Hitting just the right spot for me, was “Falling into Place.” When you’ve had one of those days (times) when everything seems to be getting no top of you, sometimes you need the reassurance that God is still holding your hand, as you cry; “Hold me closer than you ever have.” I guess that 90’s duo Out of the Grey would come close, if I were to compare Love & the Outcome to anyone. But, this duo certainly have an up to date sound. Closing the track listing is “Imperfect” and “Moving on.” The former acknowledges that we are all imperfect, yet we having a Father who gives us perfect love. The latter sees Jodi really flexing her vocals, in contrast to the other songs. Again, the quality is there for all to see, So, better late than never, I’m really pleased to catch up with this duo, and this very good release. 9/10. (May 2020)
LOVE & THE OUTCOME : Only Ever always. (
Almost exactly a year after Love & The Outcome’s Jodi King and Chris Rademaker lost their Nashville home to a major flood, here we have this married couple's third studio full-lengther. According to the press release, “the recent flooding of their home inspired the 13-track collection as the couple realized rain precedes the rainbow”. Including “select songs from their 2020 EP 'You’ve Got This'”, it is obvious from the opener 'Only ever always' that Love & The Outcome are capable of classy, well produced 'drums-n-bass' pop ccm – an impression that continues as the album progresses. Full advantage is taken of Jodi's excellent (and often multi-tracked) vocals, which are mixed well forward and lead the way with easily heard well-written lyrics through one great earworm melody after another. Some lyrics are overtly Christian – including their current radio single 'I'm not lucky, I'm blessed' (“I'm a child of the King”) and the uplifting 'Look what God has done', whilst others are more ambiguous. The optimistic 'End of the day' (“even in the darkest night there's just enough Light to say we're all gonna be ok”) the emerging from adversity 'Lookin' up' (“Things are lookin' up, I feel it in the air”), and the cleverly written and slower 'Same page' (“Tired of going my own way, help me hear what You say, want to be on the same page, me and You”) are three tracks that particularly take my attention first time through. A standout? Such is the consistency here that I struggle to select one. In the end, and as with the outstanding Ashlyn Nicole EP that I reviewed last month, I finally decide on the closing track. 'Moving on' (“I've waved goodbye to my regrets”) is a great power ballad that showcases Jodi's abilities at the high notes(!) and provides a fitting end to an excellent album. Downsides? Only one really is that to my audiophile ears the sound tends to be a touch compressed – not by overmuch though, and the music's good enough for this to be forgiven(!), so it's a 10/10. Dave Deeks (May 2022)
LOVE LIKE GRAVITY : Break the Silence. (LLG Music)
Love Like Gravity is a rock band that unashamedly shouts out a message of Faith, Hope and Love. The band features Billy Pind (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Cale Kight (Guitars/bgvs) & Stan Mayo (Drums/Programming/Synth). Kicking things off is the recent hit single ‘Devil’s in the Details,’ which went to #2 on Christian Music Weekly’s Rock Chart. That’s followed by the mid-tempo ‘Let It Go,’ and the pounding ‘Scream.’ Songs like ‘Break the Silence’ and ‘Game of Souls’ have solid instrumentation and great vocals. Providing an effective contrast is the more mellow ‘Through Your Eyes.’ The lyrics tell of finding the “real you,” as your Father God sees you. The band have previously played to thousands as a headlining artist, while also sharing tickets with bands like Kutless and Decyfer Down. My favourite track had to be ‘Thorn.’ Reminiscent of the sound of Stryper, there’s also a sumptuous guitar solo included from Tony Palacios (Guardian). The band have a firm following across the pond, and it’s about time their music opened a few more doors in the UK. 8/10. (February 2022)
LUCY GRIMBLE : Overcomer. (
Lucy is a London based singer/songwriter, who released her album “Created to Worship” recently. She has been writing songs for the church and leading worshippers for many years, both as a solo artist and with her talented band of musicians. Her desire is to create space for anyone to encounter the love of God. Lucy’s own worship flows from a place of personal intimacy and consecration to God, out of which she writes songs that carry a message of freedom, hope and identity. This new single tells of giving thanks through during disappointments and “hopeless places”, as well as asking Jesus for help to see through times of sorrow. It’s a rather choppy affair, musically, that drifts from one tempo to another. Lucy’s voice reminded me of Florence Welch, so that’s no bad thing. The recording was done live and, at times, during the choruses; Lucy’s vocals do get rather lost in the mix. However, overall, it’s a bright number that should garner plenty of radio play. 7/10. (May 2017)
LUCY GRIMBLE : Live at Burgess Barn. (
Lucy Grimble is based in London and works with a band or solo. On this occasion Lucy is with a keyboard, string quartet, percussionist, guitarist and vocalists. The recording was completed in one evening, a mixture of hymns and songs. The acoustic arrangement are sublime, a strong cello features amid the songs enhancing the gentle feel to the recording. As a lover of sleeve notes on CDs it was good to hear the stories being a couple of the songs having listened on Spotify. Her website has videos of some songs which shows the quality of the musicians involved. I Surrender All has a very interesting guitar arrangement, some chords are off the wall bringing a freshness to the classic hymn. A very enjoyable recording. 10/10. Noel Donaldson (January 2020, Record of the Month)
LUKE & ANNA HELLEBRONTH : Revive Us (Heavy Rain). (Integrity Music)
This song, which was co-written by Luke, is a prophetic cry for more of God’s presence and an encouragement for Christians to fully engage with the power of the Holy Spirit. Come like a fire, come like the wind... breathe on Your people, called by Your name...Revive us, revive us again. Pour out the power of Your presence...We hear the sound of heavy rain, the move of God– the winds of change, Your kingdom comes. Musically, it’s an atmospheric piece that rises in glory as the song plays. Luke is the vocalist, and I liked his delivery. Luke & Anna are team members of Worship Central and also serve as worship pastors at the Gas Street Church in Birmingham. With this information in mind, I can definitely see “Revive Us” being used for collective worship. 8/10. (December 2018)
LUKE & ANNA HELLEBRONTH : Up & Alive. (Integrity Music).
Luke & Anna, serve as worship pastors for the Gas Street Church in Birmingham, under the leadership of lead pastor Tim Hughes. This is the third single release from them in the last few months and it all begins with bright keyboards and guitars. The song tells of God’s creation and of Christ rising from the grave. Well-worn lyrics such as “you can break the chains” and “you’re the only healer” are given new life by this uplifting song. Luke’s vocals take the lead and his delivery is really good. The feel of the song is very much in the modern mould of Jesus Culture, and this one is head and shoulders above many of its genre. 9/10, (February 2019)
LUKE DOWLER : Live At Swan City.   (
On the last night of a 2-month US/Canada tour, Luke’s soundman decided to record the gig. It therefore captures all the energy of his performance (a lot, for one man and his guitar – plus looper: there are a few good bits where he plays solos over his own backing) together with the imperfections that make live music so brilliantly unpredictable. The vocal is therefore a bit distorted in places and the audience seem a bit far away, but there’s no mistaking the quality in Luke’s guitar playing. “Gabby’s Song” showcases his vocals better, being a gentler number, whereas I’d probably have left “Lovestruck” out. The nature of the recording means that this isn’t the best introduction to his songs and is therefore difficult to recommend, but if you’ve seen him live it will form a great reminder. Best track: “Hero (An Anthem For The Apathetic)” (and not just because I really liked the title).   4/10   Paul Ganney. (June 2015)
LUKE WAREHAM : Pure Heart EP. (
This new new five track EP by Bristol-based worship leader and songwriter Luke Wareham is due out early August – with the title track available as a single from late June. A product of Luke's songwriting over the past year, it features collaborations with five former college friends. First track 'Jesus is holy' (“Jesus is mighty”) features Chris Sayburn and sadly does him no favours, being unoriginal both musically and lyrically. Track two with Donna Akodu 'You are mighty' (“You are worthy, … you are holy …. you are clothed in majesty”) is similarly weak, despite Donna's great vocals. Things look up considerably from this point however. The 'declaration of commitment' title track comes next (“I give you my whole heart Lord”), features Michelle Lutz and stands out for me both melodically and lyrically. An obvious choice for the single, this is a great song and shows what Luke is capable of. Next is the poignant plea to a backslider 'Come home' (“you have been away for far too long”) which features the soulful vocals of Marc James, and comes a close second. Finally, the upbeat 'Honour You Lord' (“for Your glory and Your strength”) proves to be another strong example and brings us the distinctive vocals of Lou Fellingham. Since her years with the Fellingham-family jazz-influenced Phatfish I have considered Lou to be one of ccm's best vocalists, and could have wished for her to have more prominence. When she is finally given the lead halfway through, her instantly recognisable voice makes a strong contribution. A bit of a mixed bag, then – also unfortunately blighted by compressed and distorted sound, which regular readers will know I find inexplicable and frustrating! Overall? 6/10. Dave Deeks. (July 2022)
LUST CONTROL: Feminazi. (Roxx Records)
I wasn’t too sure about this album, especially when I saw the cover, being unsure whether it was parody or not. It’s an old album in a way – the audio commentary says it’s called “I am not ashamed” and Google suggested it’s a re-issue of lots of their previous material – some of which is very hard to get hold of so fans (or those with elderly cassette versions) will be pleased to see. It’s therefore a bit of a two-part album. Musically (part one) this is a punk album, with the half-rapped, half-sung vocal, shouted backing vocals, solid guitar/bass/drums you’d expect from the genre. Some of it’s very good: the riffing on “Temptation” and the chorus on “Make Money and Die” for example. Lyrically they’re solidly faith-based, running through themes of living a faithful life rather than retelling Biblical stories, the thrust of the words matching the music well and the overall theme being one of grace and forgiveness more than condemnation. This comes across strongest in the live tracks which contain shouted asides and especially the sermons (yes, I kid you not – the honesty in these is actually quite refreshing). The title track and “I Blew Up The Clinic Real Good” (a Steve Taylor cover recorded for but not used on “I Predict A Clone”) are very political with a possibly satirical lilt. Part two is more spoken and effected (such as the sermons) which sits well lyrically and (especially as most of these are live) shows how they’d work in a gig. It was an interesting album with some high points but I don’t think it’s one I’ll be returning to very quickly – a product of its time and culture that are probably great if you were there but haven’t really aged well. Best track: “Make Money And Die (Alt Mix)” 5/10 Paul Ganney (September 2019)
LUTHER BARNES & the Restoration Worship Centre Choir : Look to The Hills. (
This is the lead single from Luther’s forthcoming album, due out in the Spring. I’ve not come across his music before but, after listening to this song, I want to hear more. Luther has a great voice and is backed by a terrific choir and musicians. Unlike the Kirk Franklin, who sometimes just hollers the odd word, this man really sings! The song tells that in all our hopes and trials, we should look to the hills. “All of my help, cometh from the Lord. It’s gonna get better for me; Look to the hills and be blessed.” It’s a song of hope and a message of inspiration, all wrapped up in an excellent production. 9/10. (February 2020)
LUV ESTHER - The Musical. (Fierce)
Based on the life of Esther, the musical that has been touring the country draws in some of the Bible's essential messages for life today. The media reports hail it as a great success, and it was only a matter of time before the soundtrack appeared. Without seeing the presentation itself, I've got to say that on it's own, the album doesn't really shine. There's a whole bunch of musical styles on show, and the Britney type rip-off of "Ordinary Day" sounds cheap and nasty. But, there's worse to come as Vaudeville makes a return on the tacky "Welcome to Our World". Out of the blue comes a dance track, mid-album, that is so out of place with everything else you actually wonder just what the writer's were thinking of. "For This Very moment", for me, is the pick of the listing. It's a lovely ballad that is sung well, and with a lot of passion. On their own, the rest songs fail to live up to the press hype of the musical itself. Maybe you had to be there. 3/10. (January 2006)
LYDIA RICHARDS : Soul Awakening. ( Voice Music : Download from iTunes, Amazon, etc)
‘Soul Awakening’ is the debut six track EP from upcoming singer/songwriter Lydia Richards. The album has been supported by the Brighter Sounds project, a part of the Voice Music initiative that seeks to invest in and support talented young musicians. The title track is a laid back number that starts with voice and piano and then ebbs and flows through various crescendos and diminuendos. I like it, even though it reminds me of something else, though I can’t think what! The next number, “Don’t Let Me Get Away” is a surprising contrast with a heavier sound and more of an Evanescence type feel. This was unexpected on first listen, but after a few runs through it becomes apparent that the melody and cadences are in a similar vein to the rest of the EP and anchor it to the rest of the songs. I’d have liked a few more songs in this style. After that the EP settles in to a collection of acoustic numbers, which provide a window into the faith that pervades these songs. However, whilst it tends to park in the reflective, thoughtful vein, there is still some movement and colouration and enough to keep you interested in where it’s going. The last track, “Break my Stone” lifts the feel of the EP again with a fuller sound and some excellent harmony work. It’s clear that Lydia has great potential and what is presented here is very much a rough diamond. Once this is smoothed and polished there is much that this young talent can achieve. On the whole, a very, very good debut. 8/10 Robin Thompson. (April 2014)
Lydia is a singer-songwriter and musician from McDonough, GA. Lydia did not grow up with a musical family, but she did grow up in church, which gave her a love for encouraging others through music. She learned piano and then self-taught herself guitar when she was 15. Lydia plays local gigs and just made the decision to do music full-time in January 2019. The opening track of this release is a cheery number that has a great banjo sound running throughout. The next song also sounds bright, with Lydia duetting with Jack Settle. “Broke My Own Heart” is a lovely country song, and really well thought out, in a Martina McBride sort of way. There’s a poignant theme to “One More Time,” (studio & live versions) that looks back at growing up, from childhood. “Life keeps rolling on,” sings Lydia. But, oh to live those memories one more time. So, a short and sweet release from a very talented lady who shows great promise for the future. 8/10. (August 2019)
LYNDA RANDLE : God On The Mountain. (Gaither : 844692)
This is the first time I've come across Lynda's music, but I hope it's not the last. Beginning with the nice and easy gospel of the title track, her vocals soon melt into your heart. The timeless classic, "One Day at a Time" gets an airing, while the soulful "He Will Carry You" is just the thing for a heavy heart. Her slower paced songs can be likened to those of Marilla Ness, and that's no bad thing. I didn't particularly like the bluesy sound of "Until I Found the Lord", but found myself tapping my feet to "There is Power in the Blood" - a song that features full choir accompaniment. Lynda has a splendid vocal quality and it's at it's best, perhaps, on the closing ballad "It's All Right". What I'd call, a very easy and enjoyable listen. 8/10. (November 2005)
LYNDA RANDLE : White Christmas. (Gaither Music)
Well, as I write this review in October can I be the first one to say Yeah Christmas has come early listening to the “White Christmas” album from Lynda Randle who is part of the Gaither Music family. Christmas is a wonderful time of the year which will not be hampered by the media “Christmas is cancelled” a line to create negative thoughts and expectations. Here at “Never For Nothing” we are throwing that line away and accepting the possibility that things may be different for us this Christmas but regardless of what is going on out there, in our world at the moment, take time to listen to this great album and be reminded again of the message of eternal hope through Jesus who came as a baby 2000 years ago. The story isn’t over yet because He is coming again as King and Judge. Lynda guides us into a gentle unfolding of this collection of Christmas Classics with her rich alto tones and tasteful musical arrangements. “Do You Hear What I Hear” delivers a great musical arrangement accompanying such powerful lyrics “Said the king to the people everywhere/Listen to what I say/Pray for peace people everywhere/Listen to what I say/The child, the child/Sleeping in the night/He will bring us goodness and light/He will bring us goodness and light” “Go tell it on the mountain” delivered in pure country Nashville style, along with Lynda’s vocal style, she is accompanied by some amazing musicians just listen to the Hammond on this track and great touches from the pianist, guitarists and percussionist who deliver delightful musical twists and turns throughout every song on this album. This album delivers a lovely chilled, happy feeling from one track to the next, just what is needed when doing the happy tasks that we all do at Christmas. This sound is what Christmas is all about. The brother of Lynda, frontman of the Newsboys Michael Tait joins Lynda on a few tracks including a lovely rendition of “Winter Wonderland” with very pleasant harmonies between them both, which create that Christmas glow. Every track on this album is classy and beautifully sung by Lynda. This album will be a great addition to your Christmas music library. 10/10. Vivienne Neville. (November 2020, Record of the Month)
LYN_SEY : I Hear You Callin’ (
Based in the Southern United States, this sibling duo formed in 2019 out of their mutual love of music. Sis writes the songs, sings, and does most of the promo and social media. Bro does the instrumental & vocal arrangements and other behind the scenes tasks. Without being tied down to any specific genre, they say that their sound is a “delicious fusion of all styles and genres.” To a backdrop of guitars and keyboards, the vocals begin with clear and crisp delivery. “The distant melody, I hear in the wind; The whispers of the deep, that voce from within; The rustling of leaves, a thunderous stampede; An angry storm sets, song of the birds; I hear you callin.’ The song looks at both personal and wider-world events, with God’s voice calling us to respond accordingly in His name. Musically, I liked the fact that the instruments were well produced and that the percussion was used only when needed. There’s a tinge of country rock to this medium paced number. And, if you’re looking for something a little different in your music, I can well recommend Lyn_Sey. 8/10. (April 2023)
LZ7 : Light. (Fierce! : FIERCD6057)
For those of you who haven’t caught up with LZ7 already, the line up is Lindz West, with Nichola Scholey, Rob Evans, and Nana Ntiamoah. The title of the album refers to the band’s message; “be the Light of This World”. The musical style is modern R n’B and, at times, there’s evidence to compare LZ7 with the likes of Black Eyed Peas – certainly on the track ‘Amazin’. The opening song, ‘This Little Light’, is really catchy although the repetitive remixes of the same song lack imagination. Another message of the band is to spread love, and that’s the subject of ‘Ditto’. Vocals seem to be shared out and each singer shows what they are capable of. ‘The Greatest Day’ speeds along at pace, while ‘Dance This Night Away’ has all the makings of a secular hit. I also enjoyed the mid tempo pace of ‘Fall At Your Feet’, and I can see just what all the hype behind this band is all about. The music is relevant to current chart sounds, and stands up well. The lyrics are simple to understand, yet powerful at the same time. Although this reviewer may be getting a bit long in the tooth, this album still had plenty of appeal to me. 9/10 (January 2011)
LZ7 : These Are Better Days. (Light Music)
This recently released new album from LZ7 features several guest appearances including Silento, , Daniel Eduardo, Ad-apt and others. Throughout this album the band share through their lyrics experiences from their own lives, that enables all who listen to hear clearly what is an important message that they want to convey, which is predominantly a positive cry from their hearts encouraging and seeing the best in the younger generation. Their positive messages have brought LZ7 worldwide respect and support of their music, which balances between huge radio play, tours, missions and school tours with one aim, to tell young people all about Jesus, and encouraging them to seek Him and turn to Him in a world that is confusing right now. The first single ‘Legends’ was released in May 2018 with featured vocals from “Silento”. alongside lead singer Lindz West. The music video was filmed in New York by Lindz. This is a great opening track which you will find yourself pursing your lips and nodding your head at 1min onwards “Go for it” fab opening track. Towards the end of this album are another two remixes of this track which are a refreshing take on this stand out track featuring a DJ Pioneer and TJ Remix and a Wideboys remix. Next track is “G.O.A.T” which stands for ‘Greatest of All Time’ ft Ad-apt “LZ7 frontman Lindz West and LZ7 family member Ad-Apt unleash their inner grime animals on GOAT”. Next track ‘UP’ encourages the listener that no matter where you are in life even in the depths, the way is UP from there The message is loud and clear, Even though I walk through the darkest of night / I’ve got my eyes on you/ Still looking UP/I’ve got my eyes on you. This is a brilliant chorus ahead of a fabulous beat that kicks in. Great lyrics from 1 John 4:18 “Perfect love casts out fear” ‘I Give My All’ is a great summer anthem. ‘Giant Killer’ is a very touching song an honest, personal story from Lindz West of how his adopted son found his forever family. A few tracks further along this album another standout track “Breakthrough” with a change in mood and a great lyric 'Cause we're gonna live our love out loud/We're gonna prove it's true no doubt/In a world gone mad love is all we have/That breaks through. Keelie Walker is featured on this great pop track. I’m sure this album will be a constant on radio playlists throughout the summer. It has a great, happy vibe throughout, “These Are Better Day” will be a remembered album of the summer of 2019 and far beyond. Sitting in the sun while reviewing this album is the first place I’ve heard this album from, and I’m sure wherever you decide to listen to this album will be a happy memory for you too. Put your headphones on, go lay on the grass somewhere, enjoy. Vivienne Neville 9/10. (July 2019)

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