Never for Nothing - CCM Record Reviews archive U

THE UNION OF SINNERS AND SAINTS : Christ The Lord is Risen Today. (iTunes)
Fans of Petra and Whiteheart will love this rendition of the classic hymn. Given a heavy rock treatment, John Schlitt’s vocals are on top form as he belts out the words to this traditional hymn. Backing vocals are tight, and for lovers of searing guitar solos, you won’t be disappointed either. I did wonder if the drum sound was a little poor because, at times, the beat sounds as if it’s been made by hitting an old saucepan. The forthcoming album brings in an all-star cast of musicians including Brian Wooten (Whiteheart, Trace Adkins) on guitar, Chris McHugh (Whiteheart, Keith Urban) and Jon Knox (Whiteheart) on drums, Brennan Smiley (The Technicolors) on guitar, Peter Furler (Newsboys) on drums and vocals, Dave Ellefson (Megadeth) on bass and others for guest appearances on selected cuts. For now, this single release is a taster of things to come. 7/10. (April 2016)
UNITED PERSUIT : Endless Years. (Elevation : ELE2058D)
After giving a rather poor review of their previous album, I was a little nervous about listening to this offering from United Pursuit. But, unlike their last outing, ‘Endless Years’ does have some spiritual food for the listener. The ragamuffin style of music has been replaced by a full, well produced sound that, on the whole, is pleasing to the ear. For instance, a great guitar sound leads the way through the song ‘Commission’. Indeed, this was my favourite track on the album. Mind you, ‘People of God’ and ‘Colourful’ run a close second. On the former, Will Reagan sings “I will follow you, I want to go with you Jesus”, taking one step at a time – a timely reminder to us all. On ‘Colourful’, there’s almost a dance feel to the number, in a Scissor Sisters sort of way. There’s definitely more depth to the writing on this album, and that really hit the right notes with me. “Can you feel my heart as I reach for you”, ring the lyrics of ‘Reach for Me’. A slight Celtic production to the sound results in an engaging song. The football chant on ‘Set A Fire’ just adds to, what is, a classic praise and worship number, while ‘Your love is Better’ follows similar suit. It’s not your run of the mill praise and worship album, but it’s make up results in a very interesting album. 7/10. (December 2014)
UNITED PURSUIT : Simple Gospel. (Elevation : ELE2163D)
Band member Nathan Fray says; “Our mission is to create a culture of worship and of hosting God’s presence, all centred around community living.” Their previous releases haven’t made much of an impact with me. The live recordings sounded much like a bar-room set than a place of worship. However, this album is totally different. The sound is still raw, but there’s a real structure to the songs, and the musical backing of much higher quality than before. Imagine a Hillsong album, stripped of all the pomp and OTT production, and this is what you have here. Ten songs of pure worship and praise. Some, I liked instantly. Others are what I’d like to call slow burners. “Your Love Changes Everything” has everything that a good worship song should have. Meaningful lyrics, an easy tune for everyone to learn, and a delivery that radiates love for God. “Simple Gospel” is aptly named, while “Met By Love” celebrates the creation of each one of us as individuals. The spontaneous “You’re All Around Me” left me quite cold, but I often find the same feeling with these types of songs on ¬recordings – I guess the worship doesn’t quite come over. The collective voices on “Never Going Back” are really good and I felt myself joining in easily with that one. In my opinion, it’s definitely the best thing to come out of United Pursuit so far. 7/10. (March 2016)
UNITED PURSUIT : Garden. (United Pursuit Records)
This album came out last year but, due to illness, I’ve only been able to listen to it now. It must be two or three years since their last album, and this release is very different. I wracked my brains to come up with another, similar sounding record, but failed. The tracks all have just one word titles. This, I guess, is supposed to give you some idea of what each piece is about. Musical sounds are ambient or chill-out, while lyrics, on the whole, are few. The title track is about trusting in God, but it’s repetitive nature didn’t float my boat. On “Rest,” Andrea Marie’s wistful vocals, sometimes, get lost in the production, making it difficult to hear what she’s singing. I believe that these tracks are meant for meditative worship – hence, the gentle sounds, whilst focussing on few words. There again. “Emptiness” was one of the most miserable 7 minutes that I’ve ever spent, whilst listening to an album. Things didn’t get much better with “One.” Unimaginative synth’ loops, just became more annoying, as the time went on. Was really beginning to wonder if I was missing the point of this album? I found it very tiresome, and challenging to use anything for my own worship. However, “Beautiful” did come along and saved the day. I’m assuming that it’s Andrea Marie again on vocals. “You’re the lifter of my head, now my heart will follow.” It’s a really nice song and her voice sounds a little like Kim Walker-Smith. I can’t speak highly enough of this track, as it is just so much better than anything else on the album. Overall though, it’s a disappointing release. 3/10. (February 2019)
UNITED PURSUIT : Garden – Live. (United Pursuit)
It’s only 6 months since I had the displeasure of reviewing the original “Garden” recording. Then, I’m afraid that I found little to be positive about the songs. This live version is recorded, warts and all, but I’m not sure why? Vocals may be sincere in their praise but all too often, they’re painfully out of tune. Music is sparse throughout, often relying on the incessant strumming of just one guitar chord. Then, we come to the lyrics. Now, I understand that the United Pursuit sound is meant to be raw and spontaneous but repeating the same phrase a dozen or so times, does not make a song! “Heart is My Home” lasts in this style for over 7 minutes, and I found it painful to listen to. When I mentioned the warts and all recording, it includes the sounds of drumsticks falling to the floor and a thunderstorm raging overhead, during two tracks. ”Take Emptiness Away” is so unimaginative that emptiness did seem like the better option. And, if I thought that was bad enough, nothing prepared me for nearly 10 minutes of someone shouting “I long for your river,” which made up, practically, all the of song “One and Only.” By the time I reached the second disc, I was ready to wave the white flag and surrender. However, I stuck with it and was treat to more of the same. I don’t enjoy being negative about Christian music, but I just don’t understand what United Pursuit are hoping to achieve by releasing this album. 1/10. (July 2019)
UNIVERSAL ROYALTY : This Side of The Sea.
I decided to play this CD before looking the band up, which proved interesting. The CD has a definite west coast USA feel to it. The opener, “Feel It” rocks along very nicely, but I couldn’t help thinking of the Byrds as it played (if they’d teamed up with Coldplay, that is). And then track 2 came along with a CSNY-feel to it, albeit with considerably higher bounce factor making it sound far more fun. The acapella break-down at the end didn’t really work for me, but then it cracked on into “Pride On Parade” which ran fine with its Dodgy-esque harmonies (OK so not west coast) before the title track and its spaghetti western guitar intro took over. The best-arranged track on the album, it builds nicely, layer on layer working its way into your head. “Swing Low” was a surprising change in style but the album would have been better without its semi-rapped verse (although the Clapton-style guitar licks were a nice touch). It all wraps up with an acoustic version of the opening track which wasn’t as good as the rockier version. Overall, some good songs, good arrangements, good harmonies, definite west coast feel. The best track is the first so that’s the one to sample, which you can do on their web site ( 7/10 Paul Ganney (March 2011)
UNSPOKEN TRUTH : Touching The Father's Heart. (Vineyard Music: 1293522).
Recorded live at the North Coast Calvary Chapel in Carlsbad, California, this album includes 12 new songs of worship. Leading, are Brent Helming, Jan L'Ecuyer, and Dan Whiteman, and they get things underway with the driving "Holy Is the Lord". It's very much a guitar led band and there's a certain U2 feel about both this song and the following "Jesus Lead On". Enter to the frame, Jan L'Ecuyer, who takes over the vocals on "I Will Lift My Hands". On this, as well as later songs like"You Shelter Me" and "I Love Your Ways", she sounds extraordinarily like Sixpence's Leigh Nash that it's hard to tell them apart. Sadly, in between, there's some rather messy sounds that come over as all too ordinary. "I Love Loving You" is one example where the guitar work fails to live up to it's previous high standards and the whole song falls into complete disarray. Really, it's an album of two halves. The first is quite promising, on the whole, while the second just fades into oblivion, with song after song becoming very much alike. A pity really, because there are some great songs. 5/10. (March 2001)
URBAN RESCUE : Wild Heart EP. (Rend Family Records)
This is a five track EP featuring a set of catchy rock / pop songs. There’s a strong synth based element running through all these tracks, and there is no mistaking the influence of the Rend team all the way through this album, lots of high energy rhythmic structures, and typical backing vocals. For me the best track is the opener “His Name” It’s a bit less frantic than all the other tracks, a much more laid back approach, although it’s still fairly upbeat for all that. Personally I always find anything by Rend drives me up the wall after a while, it always seems to be in your face all the time, I find that I can’t just sit and listen to it because there isn’t much variation, and this EP is pretty much the same. The words are ok, nothing wrong with the message behind the music. I would think that this lot would be quite good if you saw them live somewhere, as it would be quite an energetic performance I should think. This is not my kind of music to be honest, but it is well produced and well played. If you want to you can listen to it on Youtube, all five tracks are on there. 7/10 Andy Sayner. (March 2016) Forward to the next archive
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