Never for Nothing - CCM Record Reviews archive E

e:PRAISE WORSHIP : Noises from the Stable. (www.epraiseworship.com)
e:Praise Worship are a group of worship leaders and musicians based in Coventry, who love to worship God through music and song. Originally brought together as a band to play in various churches, the members began to write their own songs. In response to many requests, they have now recorded this CD of ten songs. The album sounds as if it was recorded live, as sound levels seem to fluctuate within each song. Also, at times, the individual vocals fight with each other for supremacy. I would have much preferred to see singers given more space, rather than throwing all the voices in together. Saying that, when e-Praise Worship get it right, they’re spot on, as with “Only One God, Give Me Oil, and the thoughtful So Hear Our Prayers.” Kim Hearn’s flute playing deserves a special mention, as it provides some sympathetic background to break up the rather clockwork guitar rhythms. There’s a happy sound to the praise song “Jesus Has Shown Us the Way”, while “You Gave Your Life” stands out as a good song in its own right. As well as those already mentioned, “A Prayer For You and Me” is another song that would easily fit into any service. The overall sound is a little rough and ready. But, see through it, and you have a nice assembly of news songs for the church. 6/10. (November 2016)
EARLY TO THE VINEYARD : I Placed My Heart in a Sinking Ship.   (www.myspace.com/earlytothevineyard)
This CD has to win the award for the best-named CD of 2012 (even with 6 months to go). The band certainly have energy, and no doubt go down a storm on the live circuit. The guitars do the business: driving, riffing, distorting. The drums do their job, keeping it all running in the right direction. The vocals are fine, but occasionally slightly out of tune (mind you, so were the Beatles – which is probably the only time this band will get that comparison, unless it’s “Helter Skelter” or “Revolution”). They’re at their best when at their most full-on, as in the title track (I loved the chanted title). The more laid-back “Oh No” doesn’t really work for me. There’s a bit of Arctic Monkeys in their sound, but with edgier guitars. They describe themselves as post-hardcore rock, which I’d not argue with. The CD starts well and closes well (the ending of “These Thoughts of You” is very strong) but is a bit muddy in the middle. It’s a good debut, but I feel there is better to come from them. Best track: I Placed My Heart in a Sinking Ship.   6/10.   Paul Ganney (September 2012)
EARTHSUIT : Kaleidoscope Superior. (ICC)
Do the names Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach or Red Hot Chilli Peppers mean anything to you? If not, I suggest you leave this album well alone. However, if they're your type of music, I suggest you check this album out. It's not a clone of the above bands by any means, having a great deal of originality. It has its melodic moments ("Said the Sun to the Shine", for example) but is generally very energetic music in a nu metal sort of way, but (thankfully) without the overly abrasive, hateful and self-destructive edges. It even has some harmonies. There are a few vocal tricks that bear more than a passing resemblance to late 70s Yes or Genesis (sorry, lads), but the overall sound is very 21st Century.

One of the best albums I've heard this year, if not the best, so visit your local CCM emporium and get them to play you the first track. It won't disappoint.

9/10 Paul Ganney (October 2001)

EASTER PEOPLE : The Praise Album. (Kingsway : KMCD2060).
Right from the start, let me say that, this live praise & worship album is one of the good ones. All too often, you're left feeling that maybe you had to be at the event to appreciate everything, but not on this occasion. The whole congregation are led by both the Waves and Whitewings singing groups, and just what an impact the voices make. A whole host of well known tunes are given new life, including 'There's a Wind A Blowin', 'Quiet My Mind' and 'He Is Risen'. From as early as the second song 'My Jesus, My Saviour', you are literally drawn into worship and praise of the Lord. You actually feel as if you are with the congregation as they bounce their way through 'I the Lord of Sea & Sky'. Quieter numbers like 'Sing to the Lord' and 'Lord, You Have My Heart' just leave you wanting more. A must for p&w fans. 8/10. (August 1998)
EASTER PEOPLE : Kids 2000. (Kingsway : KMCD2282).
This is a CD you need to sit down and listen to, to enter into the atmosphere of this event - special this year as we celebrate the millennium. Ralph Ward and his band lead much of the worship, accompanied by John Hardwick, Greg Leavers, Simon Parry, Claire Morgans, and their respective bands. Geared towards children aged approx 5-10 years, the album has been put together well, with a good variety of quiet, reflective, and lively! Ralph Ward gives some short talks with a clear gospel message and this is an added bonus. My teenage daughter, Joanne, noticed a similarity in backing music to that of chart sensations Five with "Raise Him Up", and Steps with "Show Me the Light". My own favourites were "Praising Jesus Everywhere", "Our Father", and "Come On, Let's Celebrate".

This is a good children's CD with plenty of new songs and giving a clear gospel message. 8/10. Pam Robinson. (September 2000)

ECHO : Bought Not Souled. (Plankton Records : PCDN167)
“Hailing from East London and Essex, ECHO are all Christians and as such love to worship God and they all also love to sing and play classic Motown and soul music. So to them, what could be a more natural musical combination than bringing the two together! There are some famous classic soul songs which, with a little lyrical re-visiting and modification, become wonderful beautiful songs of worship and truth.” So much for the press release, but what about the album? Does it all come together? Well, as an artist who has played cover songs myself, I can tell you now that a lot of hard work goes into recreating the original sound of each song. Echo do it superbly well, on the whole, praising God with songs that are known and loved by millions. The Emotions’ ‘Best of My Love’ and Jackie Wilson’s ‘Higher and Higher’ are two early highlights that you just can’t help joining in with. Marie Da Silva and Juliette Georges share the lead vocals, and one of them provides some really sweet sounds on Aretha Franklin’s ‘Say a Little Prayer’. The vocals really soar on ‘Rescue Me’, where the main lyric is “Come on Jesus, and rescue me”. Absolutely fantastic! Other songs, given the Echo treatment, include ‘Reach Out, I’ll Be There’, ‘Something Inside So Strong’ and the party favourite ‘We Are Family’. Okay, so the album may be full of cover songs, but I guarantee that you’ll be singing along, and praising God, in no time at all. 9/10. (March 2014)
ECHO : You’re All I Need to Get By. (Plankton Records : Plancd015)
Originally a hit for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, this EP release from UK soul outfit, Echo, features both studio and liver versions of this well known song. The studio recording shows off those great vocals that this band have become renowned for, over the last twelve months or so. Even the live version is almost as tight, as the band play with the confidence of seasoned professionals. The third track was recorded live, earlier this year. This shows that the band putting their own twist and style to the church standard “Everlasting God”. It’s a good version, and I can see it going down well during their concerts. This EP continues where their album “Bought Not Souled” left off, showing that God and soul music really work. 7/10. (September 2015)
ECHO : Soul Proprietor. (Plankton Records : PCDN173)
Following on from their successful debut release of 2014, the East London and Essex based soul band are back with 14 brand new soul and Motown tracks. With producer/musician/arranger Richard Cottle employed to polish their own arrangements, Echo have produced another cultured album. The first, two tracks are really infectious. “This Will Be” and “This is It” are great to dance around your house to, and have a distinct sound of joy. Everyone will recognise “People Get Ready,” and this version is excellent. Marie Da Silva’s vocals are note perfect. Some of the lesser known songs took me a few listens to get used to. “I Got The Blues” and “Ain’t Nobody” being two of them. Echo give distinct new arrangement to the classic Love Affair song “Everlasting Love”, while “I Get the Sweetest Feeling” stands head and shoulders as the best track on the album. Instrumentally, there’s some nice guitar work on “No Pain, No Gain” but I would, personally, liked to have head more throughout the recording. Other notable songs include “Know Where to Run” and the catchy “Do I Love You?” My least favourite track has to be the closing “What’s Going On.” Da Silva duets with Richard Cope on a song about persecuted Christians, co-written by Marvin Gaye. The song is not particularly good, but it trickles to an end as audio news reports are played over a saxophone solo. There’s plenty of highlights with this release but I’m sure that there’s more to come from this group of talented musicians. 8/10. (October 2017)
ECHOING ANGELS : You Alone. (INO : 40092)
This 5 piece indie rock band from Atlanta, Georgia, release their debut album which lends more than a passing nod to Third Day. The lead vocals are very similar in style and that was quite apparent from the opening track called "I Will". The title track is an epic ballad about worshipping God alone, and it stands out as the best cut. The more I listened to the rest of the album, however, the more I thought, "I've heard it all before". Yes, this collection of songs sounds just like a hundred others that I've reviewed in a similar genre. "Hallelujah" is quite a moving song but how I longed for just something a little different, to stand out from the norm. I, personally, want to be excited by Jesus music, but this album didn't make the mark. Closing the listing is an acoustic track called "Move Me". Again, it's the obligatory rock band's cliché to show a lighter side to the band, and it's all very bland indeed. 3/10 (July 2007)
THE ECHOING GREEN : Supernova (Red Hill Records :RHCD 2155)
Geoff said he'd send me something different this month, and he certainly has! This lot hail from the US of A, and if the dance scene is your thing, it's worth a good listen. I say 'dance scene' but that's a gross generalisation - what struck me about this album was the diversity. Although there are programmed drum sequences, excellently produced, running throughout, the content of the tracks varies considerably. The title track reminded me of early 90s dance, with an element of Depeche Mode creeping in, but this changes to a much heavier sound in 'Defender', and then again to a dance type ballad in the final cut, 'Nightfall & Splendor'. Incidentally, I thought this to be the best track on the album, with a good lyrical style and vocals. Other tracks to grab my attention were 'Waterfall' and 'December'. Overall this is good, well produced material with a lyric style that is not too blatant but sets the brain ticking over. I just wish they would use Chrissy Franklin's vocals a little more next time, as I feel the tracks she fronts are the better ones. Having said that, Joey Belville's vocals are pretty good too, apart from perhaps 'She's Gone Tragic' which didn't seem quite to cut the mustard. But, all in all, a polished production and definitely worth checking out if you're tastes are more towards the dance end of the spectrum. 8/10 Julie Lord. (March 2001)
EDEN'S BRIDGE : Celtic Worship 2. (StraightWay/Word : SSD 0200)
Recorded in West Yorkshire, England, I still find it strange that it's an American company that is behind this band. Featuring the likes of Sarah and Richard Lacey, David Bird, Jon Large, and Terl Bryant, this is Eden's Bridge's 5th album, and 2nd in the Celtic Worship series. It would be easy for me to say that these musicians are an Iona clone collection, and there's a touch of truth when listening to "I Will Change Your Name". However, it soon becomes apparent that there's a lot more to these people than that. Sarah's vocals are just as good as Joanne Hogg's but the tones are a million miles apart. Pete Seegers 1962 classic "Turn, Turn, Turn" has been recorded by many artists over the years, and this version stands alongside the best of them. If it's peaceful sounds you want, then try "Sarah's Prayer" or the simply delicious instrumental "Seascape". There's pipes, guitars, various keyboards, miscellaneous percussion, and many odd sounding instruments on display throughout the album and the overall sound is one of sheer bliss. Take "Who Can Bind Your Heart". 6 minutes of priceless vocals, riding high upon the waves of engrossing music. "Refiner's Fire" is, perhaps, the best of the more traditional numbers, where the tune remains the same but given the Eden's stamp. For Celtic fans, and more, everywhere. 8/10. (June 1999)
EDEN'S BRIDGE : Isle of Tides. (from Jude Music Ltd, PO Box 253, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England, WF1 3UD)
I'm not sure why it's taken two years for this album to wing it's way through my letter box but, I guess, better late than never. Lover's of celtic music still miss the sounds of Iona, but many are still to find the joys of Eden's Bridge. It's impossible not to compare the two as the musical content is so similar. Indeed, Sarah Lacy's vocals are just as velvet to the touch as Joanne Hogg's. On this album, there's 18 tracks in a typical celtic vein that only lacks the odd uptempo number to add a little extra to proceedings. Instruments are provided by the likes of Terl Bryant and Simeon Wood who, along with their colleagues, bring out the best in each song. Favourites for me include "Keep Me Sailing" and "From Here, Today", but there's a whole host of good songs to choose from. 8/10. (April 2004)
EDEN'S BRIDGE : The Celtic Worship Collection. (Straightway : EMID2701)
In this second 2 CD volume of worship songs, the listener is once more given the chance to hear songs delivered in a Celtic style. The first disc contains praise songs and includes the bright and empowering "Whole Earth", written by Richard & Sarah Lacey and David Bird. There's an intriguing ethereal version of "There is a Redeemer" which I found quite inspiring, before the gentle vocals and flowing pipes of "Son Of Man". Sarah may not get the plaudits of Mairre Brennan and Joanne Hogg, but I find her vocal quality just as soothing and warm. "Every Heart" is quite an epic, with a very full and well produced celtic sound. Disc two is sub-titled "Celtic Reflections on Hymns" and I particularly liked the way "Holy, Holy, Holy" builds up to a crescendo of praise. "Be Thou My Vision" and "Here is Love" are very thoughfully portrayed and the atomospheric version of "Amazing Grace" sits well amongst the rest of the tracks. The album, as a whole, works well and the content is really good. 8/10. (June 2006)
EDWIN BROWN : Christ For Me. (Kingsway : KMCD2967)
This is Irish tenor Edwin Brown's debut album, and what a good one it is too. His background has seen him study music in Texas, sing with the popular Continental Singers, work in Christian Television & Radio, as well as leading worship at major evangelistic events. Oh yes, and if that's not enough he also turned down the opportunity to pursue a career in professional music theatre so that he could continue his worship ministry. I guess Edwin will be likened to Stuart Pendred, in style, but he does manage to make all the songs his own. He writes some of the songs too, and the opening 'Let Your mantle Cover Me' is one of his. Edwin's smooth vocals carry the song, where it ends in an instrumental, celtic style. Fanny Crosby's immortal 'All That I Am' is next, and Edwin breathes new life into this well loved song. I thought that his next highlight was on 'Just the Very Thought of Thee', another self penned number. His performance here is heartfelt, and full of worship. The tempo rises with 'It's the Power', but he's at his best on songs of grace and love like 'The Greatest Love' and the tender 'See the Lamb of God'. Edwin has certainly been blessed with a great voice, and this album should open many more doors for this talented musician. 9/10 (July 2009, Album of the Month)
ELATION : Elation. (www.feedthehungry.org.uk)
Elation is a worship duo from Leicestershire, joined together by the huge passion of making music and spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. Together form less than a year, singer Ben Williams and guitarist Dan Harris wanted to unite their musical taste, various talents, and their burning desire to praise God to create their own individual stamp on worship. The CD is a six track offering, with Joe Gilliver adding his writing talents to that of Ben and Dan. 'Let My Worship' builds in power as the song progresses, and Ben has a pleasing voice. A lot of effort seems to have gone into the production of 'Your Sacrifice' but the distorted guitar is rather intrusive at times. 'Father God', on the other hand, provides some lovely acoustic guitar work, as the song calls upon God, who made all things. As a debut release, there's a bit of experimentation going on within the sounds produced but, on the whole, the Cd stands up well. 'As I Live and Breathe' is similar to the first track, as it too builds in strength, promising to serve and love with all your heart. There's almost a folk element to 'Greatest Story' before we're treated to a live version of 'Father God'. Yes, there are one or two warts in the overall concept but there's a lot of promise too and, if you buy the Cd, you're helping a good cause as well. 7/10 (October 2011)
ELECTRALYTE : Scratch Beneath the Surface. (Fierce! : FIERCD44)
Electralyte are a four piece British rock band who said to have "all Arctic Monkeys and Fratellis flair." They've toured with the likes of Delirious? and have played many of the major festivals, so they've got quite a good pedigree. Well, if I'd written this review after one play of the album, I wouldn't have been very impressed. If anything, I found them quite melancholy at times, nearing on The Verve sort of territory. But, after another play or two, I began to enjoy the songs, and could see exactly what the press release had said. 'Again Again' is a lively enough start but 'Where in the World' and 'Athens' is where the album really gets going. Both songs are written about relationships, and work well. 'Let's Get Married' is written about seeing Christian friends marrying and then separating. Perhaps without God's guidance, there wasn't enough to hold them together. Perhaps, the more I listen, the higher score this album will get, but for now, it's 7/10. (August 2008)
THE ELECTRICS : Danger Live… (ICC : ICCD39830)
It must be 8 or 9 years since I bought my first Electrics' album and, boy, was I impressed. Since then, however, their recent releases have all failed to live up to that excellent introduction. "Danger…" was recorded live at the 1998 German Christmas Rock Night, and features songs and tunes, old and new. The opening "Killiecrankie" is not a death threat to those Scotish comedians, but the famous Robbie Burns poem put to music. If you like a lot of jumping and jigging, then there's plenty of reels to get you in the party mood, "Berni's Wedding Jig" reminded me of those heady Eden Burning gigs of the past, while "Piping Hot" is more in the same vein. "Livin' It Up When I Die" and "Visions & Dreams" are both well known favourites and they obviously go down well with the live crowd. For the casual CD listener, however, the album gets a bit samey after a while and it's hard to know when one song stops and another starts. Sammy Horner and the guys have been around for some time now, but to really get the most out of this release, I think you had to be there. 6/10. (April 2000)
ELEVATION KIDS : So Much Fun. (Elevation : ELE2052)
Compiled to help you and your children discover the Bible together, this 20 song album features many tracks in the style of today’s popular secular acts. For instance, Damien Herbert’s ‘Brand New Day’ is energetic, teen pop that sounds just like McBusted. It’s not a bad song, and I think that it has great appeal. It’s a pity that the same can’t be said of Doug Horley’s ‘Hi-5’. This time, the song is performed in rap style, that sounds rather dated. ‘Lean on the Lord’ comes over like a bad karaoke nightmare, before the truly awful ‘The Wiggly Waggly Song’ hits the speakers. I know that it’s aimed at the very young, but the backing music sounds like it was played on the cheapest set up ever. If this all sounds like I didn’t enjoy the album, that’s true. But, there were some highlights. Pete James’ ‘Talk to Jesus’ raises the musical standards ten fold, with a song that tells children to talk to Jesus, no matter what they are worried about. Similarly, the Owl City electronica style of ‘I Believe’ is a very good song for youngsters to affirm their faith in Jesus. Other songs that I’d like to forget include ‘God Can Do Anything’ were the song speeds up with each nauseating chorus, and ‘The Vegetable Song’. On the latter, the kids choir list many vegetables, and ends with the line “But I Don’t like Sprouts”. Again, the musical backing is third rate. There’s some cheap, tacky drum beats, and the worst attempt at a slide guitar sound that I’ve ever heard. Finally, just when I’d almost lost the will to live. Damien Herbert’s ‘You Need Not Fear’ raised my sagging spirits. It Gary Barlow was a Christian artist, this is the song that he would write. Melodic, a great tune, and some fine production work. Some of the tracks date back to more than twenty years ago. Sadly, they should have been left there. 4/10. (January 2015)
ELEVATION WORSHIP : Nothing Is Wasted. (Essential Records : 83061 6951-2)
This is a live worship album, although apparently there is a double CD version which has another disk featuring the same songs recorded in the studio. The live version sounds pretty much like any other American worship CD that you might come across, big production songs, and a congregation that cheers and claps in all the right places right on cue. I wasn’t familiar with any of the songs on this album, which at least means someone has gone to the trouble to write some new songs, and that in itself is quite refreshing considering most of the competition on offer. I didn’t think that any of the songs featured were particularly outstanding, and on the first few tracks the snare drum seems a bit loud in the mix. There is a point where someone speaks for a couple of minutes, which is somewhat “cringeworthy” but the American market seems to go for that kind of thing. To sum up then, I wouldn’t choose this CD in particular over any other, there’s nothing particularly wrong with it. It’s just no better or worse than all the other CD’s in this particular genre. 5/10 Andy Sayner. (July 2013)
ELEVATION WORSHIP : There is a Cloud. (Elevation Worship Records : 6 47946 99984 7)
This is North Carolina's Elevation Worship’s tenth full-length release, and was recorded live at Elevation Ballantyne. Elevation Worship has become an influential voice in churches around the world with CCLI charting songs such as “Only King Forever,” “Give Me Faith,” and “Unstoppable God.” This record follows the chart-topping 2016 release Here As In Heaven, and looks set to follow in its popularity. It’s full of big production numbers, with those gathered in the audience lapping up each song of worship. The make-up of a lot of the songs is very much in the mould of Hillsong. To that end, although there’s nothing wrong with those songs, I did think that some of them sounded very much alike. Exceptions to those come in the album’s “purple patch,” with “Uncontainable Love,” “None” and “Grateful.” Sadly, there are no vocal credits given, but the female voice on the former is simply divine. The song is shorter than most, but that doesn’t take away anything from the quality. “Nothing can change your love; it’s uncontainable.” It’s simply wonderful. Of the other songs, “Do It Again” lasts far too long, and its 3 minute reprise is definitely something that I could have done without. With the driving force of Mack Brock now removed from the Elevation Worship line up, it will be interesting to see how the team progress. 8/10. (August 2017)
ELIJAH’s TREE : Fool’s Gold. (https://www.facebook.com/elijahstree/?fref=ts)
Elijah’s Tree are Oxford based duo David Scott and Jeremy Young. This debut 8 track release sees them make plenty of moves when it comes to musical styles. Opening with the acoustic rock of the title track, there’s some striking guitar work on show. “The Fourth Man” had me scratching my head for a while as to the nature of the lyrics. Jeremy says; “It’s based on the story of Daniel. So the fourth man in question is the man Nebuchadnezzar saw with Daniel's friends when they were thrown into the furnace. I know it's not certain who that fourth man is, but we're interpreting it as Jesus, or at least as a representation of the presence of God. So essentially it's about trusting in the God who is present with you even in the most testing of trials.” The song itself sounds very much like an 80’s Depeche Mode track, while the following “Misdirection” brings Ska back to life. My only complaint here is that the trumpet sounds could have done with strengthening. Otherwise, musically, the sound is very good, and there’s more than a passing nod to The Kooks and Noah & the Whale on “Slow Down.”. The whistling hook certainly goes down well. Chugging guitars and nice harmonies greet “The River”, whilst “Hiding Place” is bound to get your toes tapping. Possibly, the weakest song is left until last. It’s a pedestrian paced number and the Jeremy’s vocals don’t seem to be as crisp as earlier tracks. It’s a very experimental album, with so many differing styles on display, but it shows that David & Jeremy have plenty of ideas and promise for the future. 7/10. (March 2016)
ELIM SOUND : Fresh Mercy. (Kingsway : KWCD3231).
I was not sure what to expect when I first got my hands on this, in fact I'll admit that my first thoughts were that this would be another addition to the never ending stream of ever recycling worship songs that we've all heard a million times before. However I have to say that this has got to be one of the best worship albums I've heard for ages. All the eleven tracks are new ones, and all of them have an atmosphere of genuine worship taking place. Listening to this CD I got the feeling that a lot of thought has gone into the arrangements of the instruments and vocals, there are some nice choral backing vocals spread throughout, and there are a lot of synth lines scattered across the tracks, which genuinely do embellish the music nicely. The music itself is pop/rock worship, but nothing too heavy. "Fill us Holy Spirit" and "Let the fire fall" were the standout songs for me personally, but there wasn't a song on this CD that I didn't like. This CD is like a breath of fresh air compared to most of the worship CD's that I've listened to recently, there should be more bands doing new materiel like this, rather than churning out the same old same old. If you go to www.elimsound.co.uk you can listen to some samples from this album 10/10 Andy Sayner. (September 2011, Album of the Month)
ELIM SOUND : Elim 100. (www.elimsound.co.uk)
To celebrate the 100 years of Elim ministry that began in Ireland in 1915, Elim Sound have recorded this new album featuring a variety of Elim worship leaders / artists. Here we have contemporary versions of primarily traditional hymns. Unlike many such attempts to bring familiar tunes up to date, the arrangements are largely sympathetically done and in the main very successful. 'Have thine own way' features a lovely vocal by Fiona Crow set against an attractive repeating piano riff and uses a technique common to several tracks i.e. the introduction of heavy drums part-way through to build to an effective climax. 'Breathe on me breath of God' is similarly strong, with Suzanne Hanna on lead vocals. The standout track on the album for me is probably 'I stand amazed', featuring Tim Sanders - a really excellent arrangement, well delivered and produced with the repeating chorus 'how marvellous, how wonderful' running round my head for ages after I heard it. The main downside here however is that a significant number of the tracks suffer from poor sound - the opener 'I will give thanks' is typical in dissolving into awful distortion and compression as soon as the track gets 'busy'. I really despair of this sort of thing as I feel that much of the effort put in by writers, arrangers and performers is squandered at the 'finish line'. I found this release difficult to listen to at times for this reason, so frustratedly cannot award more than an overall 6/10. Dave Deeks (May 2015)
THE ELMS : Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll. (Sparrow : SPD51978)
Billed as playing "straight ahead authentic rock & roll", The Elms bring guitar music to the fore with this follow up to their critically acclaimed debut. I never heard that one, but this is a gem. With traits of Petra at their best on tracks like "Speaking in Tongues" and "The First Day", there's distinct cutting edge to their music. "Burn & Shine" says "let's get out and tell the world about God" instead of just thinking about it. It's another top song and very radio friendly. Then, there's the jangly sound of "Let Love In". It's a cross between the Byrds "Mr Tambourine Man" and Big Tent Revival's "Letting Go", but still contains it's own individuality. To be honest, there's not a bad song on the album, it's just filled with terrific rock & roll. That is, with the exception of the closing song. In sorrow and despair, when all seems dark - there's a time to let it go. "Smile at Life Again" is one of the most touching songs I've ever heard. One of the releases of the year so far. 10/10 (April 2003, Album of the Month)
ELVIS PRESLEY : He Touched Me. (Alliance : 8443923) - Video
I've got to admit to being one of the few who didn't think much of Elvis' music until long after his death. Since then, however, I've become to appreciate the depth of the music, as well as the phenomenon that was Elvis himself. This video charts his progress from childhood attending an Assembly of God church with his parents through to concerts by Southern Gospel Quartets like the Statesmen and the Blackwood Brothers. There's plenty of interviews with former members of these groups, as well as the legendary Jorannaires. There are a couple of concert songs featured, like "american Trilogy" and "How Great Thou Art", but others are either used as backing music for the narrative, or from amatuer film clips. There's some great stories included, like the time Elvis prayed for one of the members of the backing group who had just been diagnosed with a cancerous tumour. The next day, the tumour had disappeared. To watch the full 90 minutes in one sitting was a bit much, but I was still fascinated by it all. 8/10. (April 2000)
The Encounter (DVD,PureFlix Entertainment, Dove Rated 12+)
The “party of travellers thrown together with a mysterious stranger” story is a well-trodden one, think ‘Identity’, ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ and countless others. The twist here is that the mysterious stranger claims to be Jesus ... yes, that one ...while the party of travellers is a classic movie combination of teenage girl fleeing abusive parents, bickering couple on the brink of divorce, millionaire ex-sports star turned businessman and devout Christian on the way to see her boyfriend. One by one, Jesus (played by Bruce Marchiano, who has now played Jesus on film no less than 6 times) draws out the backstories and deepest worries and desires of each of the party accompanied by deep spiritual and scriptural truths. From a Christian point of view it is hard not to feel moved, challenged and encouraged as bible verses and exposition almost fall over each other in their desire to be heard. However, as a movie there are some real issues: the pace is slow; the script doesn’t give the cast much to work with and characterisation is too one-dimensional for the group to be more than a collection of clichés. It is clearly a low-budget affair, set mostly in a 50s style diner, and there is an interesting game of “spot the continuity error” to be had. All that said, the cast do well with what they have, in particular ex-wrestler Steve Borden makes multi-millionaire businessman Nick as irritating and cynical as you expect him to be, and Jaci Velasquez convinces as vulnerable Christian Melissa. The stand-out performance though belongs to Marchiano who brings just the right combination of strength and compassion to his portrayal of Jesus. Overall it is a tough one to grade. It is enjoyable and thought-provoking in equal measure, but ultimately entirely predictable, although the same could be said of most big-budget blockbusters. For a Christian audience, or outreach tool, it is excellent, laden with solid scriptural teaching, but it is not a movie to curl up in front of with the family and a bucket of popcorn. 7/10 David Cooper. (June 2012)
Encounter Worship. Volume 1. FIERCD29
This CD is yet another compilation of all the worship songs that you already own several times over. The main difference about this one though, is that it is an album of cover versions rather than the original artists. You can however still predict most of the tracks, "How Great Is Our God, Famous One, In Christ alone", and of course no worship CD is complete without "My Jesus, My Saviour" To be fair most of the songs on here are ok in themselves, the arrangements are fairly basic, so if you wished to you could adapt them for playing live without too much trouble, but really I just wonder. What's the point? There's nothing here that I've not heard before, and the CD as a whole seems to lack any kind of spark. Why not be Radical, Write something new! There is actually a statement on the sleeve asking people to send in songs to be considered for future projects, presumably anything written in the last five years won't be considered. Go to www.encounterworship.info if you're interested. This is probably best described as Christian lift music. Personally I'd take the stairs. 5/10 Andy Sayner. (July 2007)
ERIC CHAMPION : Natural. (Essential : CD70015).
Rarely does an album contain so many songs that really search, deeply, about the important things in your life. 'Am I Lookin' Good' kicks of with an indie/rock feel and homes in on the fact that we spend so much time on our outward appearance that we forget about the inside. 'God Only Knows' is very radio friendly but 'Hacker's Prayer' sounds morose and easily forgettable. Tired of living life under your own steam? It's about time you really gave yourself to Jesus, so says the ballad 'Giving Up' in a Bryan Adams sort of way. There seems to be times on the album when Eric gives carte' blanche to everyone to do their own thing, as two or three different tunes appear at the same time. However, if you're honestly ready to be challenged, buy the album and be prepared to pray. 7/10. (August 1998)
ERIC KNEIFEL : No Shadows. (www.erickneifelmusic.com)
Eric Kneifel is a passionate worship leader in Portland, OR. He's led worship for close to 20 years at several churches along the west coast and in Colorado. Eric’s mission is to encourage and inspire God’s people to worship Him in spirit and truth, both through music and by living daily for His glory. This new album contains 12 self-penned songs of praise and worship. Eric has a distinctive guitar sound, and it gives a bright opening to “I Will Rejoice,” a song that worships our Saviour. His duet with Gabrielle Marita on “This is Our God” is particularly pleasing on the ear. The song is one of many that is just perfect for collective worship. “Make me a vessel, fill me with passion for your cause,” are a few words from “Stir in My Heart.” Again, this melodic tune emphasises the real understanding that Eric has for producing a good congregational song, whilst also engaging the listener. In style, his songs are a cross between Steven Curtis-Chapman and Fernando Ortega, and his vocals are appealing. The title track sounds as if it should be a film score, as I felt it was a very powerful song. Eric’s guitar playing is carefully crafted to suit each track, but he also gives a glimpse of a rock influence on the solo piece within “At Your Feet.” Here, Gabrielle duets with Eric once more on and the voices supplement each other perfectly. “No Shadow” is an interesting album, full of finely chosen lyrics, weaved and put together by Eric, resulting in a lovely collection of songs. 9/10. (November 2016)
ERIN O'DONNELL : A Scrapbook of Sorts. (Alliance : ALD108)
This is the lady who got her recording contract in a cyber cafe! Sounding very much like Suzanne Vega, Erin takes you on a trip around her life. "Be Still & Know" is not the chorus song that many of us know, but a happy ditty that cheers you up the moment you hear it. "I Will Trust in You" is a slower track, complete with summery feel, but that happy feeling still shines out. Looking back on your pre-Christian days, you may find that God was there, even in the darkest of times. That's just what Erin admits to on the classy "Even in My Youth". She's the nearest thing to Amy Grant I've heard for some time and the overall strength of the album is in it's simplistic but memorable lyrics.

It's a good debut. 8/10. (August 1997)

ERIN O'DONNELL. "No Place So Far". (Myrrh : 080688605322)
I've got say that I can't make up my mind about this album. I've listened to it a few times and find it infuriating to the fact that songs which sounded good first listen leave me cold, while songs that, at first, passed me by are now beginning to grow on me. Take, for instance, the title track. Nothing special on first time of hearing but, then, sounds totally different on second listen. In fact, so much so that many listens later, I'm still singing along! "Your Love Will Get Me There" is another one, and I'm really beginning to like this one, too. Erin, herself, has a voice that sounds a little like Sarah Masen but the songs themselves are in the style of, say, Natalie Imbruglia. "There You Are" tells that even if we wander off from Jesus, when we return, He hasn't "moved an inch" and has His arms are still open to welcome us back. Maybe I should have listened to this album for a month or so before reviewing? There again…….7/10. (May 2001)
ERNIE HAASE & THE SIGNATURE SOUND : Glorious Day (Stow Town STR 3117)
Where have I been for the past ten years or so? Whilst southern gospel quartet 'Ernie Haase + Signature Sound' have evidently been around for this length of time and have released seventeen CDs and eight DVDs, this eleven track CD is my first experience of them! Settling down to listen for the first time and hearing it kick off with a male four part harmony vocal / big band arrangement of 'When the saints go marching in', I thought I knew what to expect for the next forty minutes or so. But no. Whilst there are common threads here, there is such a wide variety of styles that I'm not sure what to make of it! Common threads? The male gospel quartet, traditional/gospel lyrics, and lovely clean sound that shows many current releases how it should be done. Variety of styles? 40s swing, big band, blue grass, orchestra, guitar/acoustic, gospel, country/country rock/country pop, gospel rock. I fear that such variety may limit its appeal. And whilst those voices blend really well, when the bass takes the lead on 'Scars in the hands of Jesus' and 'Two coats' it exposes an excessive vibrato that borders on going out of tune. Interesting then, but no 'standouts' for me - and probably of limited interest, ironically as a result of trying to appeal to a wide audience. 6/10. Dave Deeks (October 2013)
ESSENTIAL CHRISTIAN SONGS Vol.2 : Let My Words Be Few. (ICC Records)
When reviewing Worship CDs I normally look for one of two things: new songs and/or new arrangements. In short, something to justify adding this CD to my non-trivial collection. This, however, doesn't really fit, being more of a "greatest hits" kind of thing - it doesn't need to add to the cannon, just collect together some of the "best bits" (as the title "Essential..." implies). So, is it? Well, all of the arrangements and performances are very competent and clear (important if you're going to sing along). However, it lacks energy, especially on "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?". The more melodic stuff works very well, though, such as "You Are My Portion" (a new song to me, so passes one of my two Worship CD tests). Stand-out track, though, is "Open the Skies" (not that I could imagine our congregation singing it, mind) which has a wonderful rhythm running around behind it (and some very subdued powerchords). Essential? It all rather depends on whether you already have worship CDs with these songs on. If you don't, then you could do a lot worse than to buy this. Of course, you may already have done worse, in which case this'd be worth getting so you've got some decent versions of your favourite songs. 7/10. Paul Ganney. (January 2004)
The Essential Worship Chillout Collection. (Kingsway : KMCD2499)
The ever expanding range and style of worship albums released shows no sign of abating and this one is quite a worthy addition - taking a selection of popular songs and re-interpreting them in a more atmospheric/ambient style designed to provide respite from the pace and pressures of everyday life. Cool grooves abound, and within that context the 10 songs chosen are a good selection, with three in particular standing out for me: a great, laidback "In Christ Alone", a surprisingly effective reggae version of "Jesus lover of my soul" and a superb recording of "Light of the World" which is more than a little reminiscent of Right Said Fred, spoken vocal and everything. Not all the songs are as effective as these, but none of them are ever less than interesting, uplifting and (of course) relaxing, with some nice variety in the vocals, sweet harmonies and simple arrangements. Turn off the lights, close your eyes and go with it. You won't be disappointed. 8/10 David Cooper (Jnaury 2004)
The Essential Worship Chillout Collection 2. (Kingsway : KMCD2603)
I've got to be honest. What I expected from this album, was to be able to sit out on a hot summer's day, and to reflect and meditate to the "chillout" tunes. Well, I gave up waiting for a hot summers day when I wasn't at work, and decided to listen to this album both at home, and in the car. The result being, I didn't feel "chilled out" in either setting. Sure, the music didn't pound your brain, nor did it ease my mind after a stress filled day. In fact, it reminded me of elevator and shopping mall music - the stuff that just plays in the background as you go about your day. I found most of the songs, like "Be Lifted Up" and "You Are My Passion" to be nothing more than just very ordinary songs, while the reggae feel of "God is Here" did raise my hopes. There's nice versions of "Beautiful Saviour" and "Outrageous Grace" but, I'm afraid, that the album just fulfill my expectations. 4/10. (August 2005)
ESTHER MOORE : The Answer. (www.orphannomore.com)
This debut single from Esther Moore has been released in support of World Refugee Day, and is provocative call to love without condition and reservation. Of the song, Esther says; “The Answer was written from a place of deep wrestling. What is our response when faced with senseless violence and hate- filled attacks on innocents? The natural response is to react with fear and hatred of the individuals responsible and a desire to make them pay. My question, inspired by those who chose another way, was this: what would happen if we chose the most counter-intuitive, difficult and challenging response - and chose to love instead?” The song itself sees Esther with a vocal quality and delivery akin to that of Florence Welch. It’s lovely to be able to hear every word sung so distinctively, when many of today’s productions bury the vocals within a cacophony of sound. “Stand with one voice. Love is the answer.” What a simple message. 7/10. (July 2017)
EVA KROON PIKE : Christmas Revolution. (www.evakroonpike.com)
I’ve heard a few of Eva’s songs over the last year, and I’ve been quite impressed. This festive single is a happy sounding ditty, that has a great message behind it. Let’s forget all the hype about money and presents and focus on what Christmas is all about – the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. There’s some jangly guitars playing throughout the song, and they carry Eva’s vocals superbly well. She sings about the Christmas Revolution that will bring peace, hope and joy to all. It’s a song that is easy on the ear, and very radio friendly. 8/10. (December 2014)
EVA KROON PIKE : Love is All About You. (www.evakroonpike.com)
Having been adopted as a child and brought up in a loving Christian home, Florida-based Eva Kroon Pike is a multi-instrumentalist as well as singer-songwriter. On first listening to this eight track EP I was reminded of Sarah Masen. Ms Masen burst onto the ccm scene in the mid 1990's with brilliant albums under the leadership of Charlie Peacock, bringing a fresh vocal style that has since been reflected by numerous other female vocalists – and these albums are still regular listens for me. Whether consciously or otherwise, the five upbeat contemporary ccm pop tracks here clearly imply such an influence – particularly on songs such as 'Not miss a thing' and 'Born to run' (not the Bruce Springsteen one!). Eva's delivery is none the worse for that however, and the three ballads in particular demonstrate a vocal ability of her own. Her lyrics also merit a mention – well-written, arising out of Eva's own personal experiences, with hooky melodies that sound attractive on first listen yet stand further attention. There really isn't a poor song here. Arrangements / production? Don Koch has done a great job, the only slight negative for me being some evidence of vocal effects/autotune. This is an excellent release, well recommended. 9/10. Dave Deeks (December 2014)
EVERLIFE : Everlife. (Authentic : 7770292)
It must have seemed like a good idea at the time but to let these three girls try and sing rock songs was a big mistake. Let's face it, they just haven't got the vocal range to carry songs like "Heaven Open Your Eyes" and "Take A Ride". When they leave the rock sound behind, you do find their voices fitting well to the more pop orientated "I'm Over It and "Lead the Way". One of the three girls has a voice that sounds very much like that of Susan Ashton, and this really comes to the fore on the acoustic backed "Save Me" and "Set Me Free". Although I'm not slating the lyrical content, I did find the songs quite weak throughout. I'm afraid that this album would go down as just "another record" for me. 4/10. (May 2005)
EVERYBODYDUCK :Still Know How To Groove. (Diadem : 92193-1225-2)
With some zany humour and catchy lyrics,, this album starts off really well with songs like 'Sunday Shoes' and the title track. The former looks at the myth(?) that being a Christian is boring, while the latter continues the theme explaining that "Yes I have become a Christian but I still know how to groove". It's these lighter numbers that give the album it's class, complete with it's light rock feel. In between, the band get heavy and the lyrics get lost in the overall production. 'Walk the plank' and 'Closed Doors' are, in sound, reminiscent of 80's band Martha & the Muffin's 'Echo Beach'. Not bad, but not the best. 5/10.
EVERYDAY SUNDAY : Wake up! Wake up! (Inpop Records : POD1406)
This CD is by four guys from Columbus, Ohio, and is an album full of no nonsense guitar led pop/rock songs. I think that this band sound more like a British rock band than an American one. In fact if this CD had come out in the late seventies or early eighties it would have probably have been filed under new wave. That's not to say that it sounds dated though, all the songs seem to be the kind of tune that sticks in your head after you've listened to them a couple of times. There is no let up at all in style or pace, right from the start of the first track with a guitar lick in the intro which reminded me somewhat of "Into the valley" by The Skids (If my memory is correct). A lot of albums that have no variation in pace tend to get me bored by half way through, but this one, it has to be said is an exception. The songs are all well performed, and each one of them stands up on it's own. There isn't anything bad to say about this CD. I reckon that this is an American band that could do very well over here, if they get the chance to be heard that is. If you get the chance to pick up a copy of this CD get it. 10/10 Andy Sayner. (January 2008, Album of the Month)
EVERYONE : Everyone. (Furious Records)
This four piece band from California bring guitar pop back to the fore with a sound that is reminiscent of label-mated Delirious? Well, perhaps that isn't such a surprise, as singer Jeff Searles 1995 album "Inside Me" was produced by Martin Smith. However, there's more to this band than just being a cloned copy. Okay, so the title track could well be the D-boys in disguise, it's still got some great lyrics and super guitars. "Lovely Way" is a bit more melodic - "like Travis", my better half says. Searle's vocals are good all the way through and he's at his best on the rockier numbers. "Thank you", "Jesus Saviour", and "Crazy" reach out as "up and at 'em" praise, but I personally found "Only for You" to be a little bit too heavy and over the top. Lots of good things to come out of this album, so give it a try. 9/10. (May 2003) Forward to the next archive
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