Out of the Ashes - Fears, Secrets & Lies
(Out of Ashes Music/Resound Media, £12)
It’s taken me a while to get to this new release from Gloucestershire-based Out of the Ashes, headed by main songwriters Penny Lyon and Kevin Washburn, but I’m glad I did.
Everything about the 14-song collection oozes class and sophistication. The musicianship is excellent, vocals top notch and the production (not always the case with some Christian releases these days) delicately balanced.
Principally leaning towards bluesy, soulful, chilled jazz, there are some great tunes and some punchy lyrics. Some of the songs (Wake Up, Fears Secrets & Lies, It’s A Through Road) look at the challenges we face individually and as a Church, and point the listener back to Jesus, while others (Tipped Off The Table, Good Place To Be, That Ain’t Livin’) are more evangelistic and outreach-based.
My favourites were the gospel-tinged That Ain’t Livin’, the ridiculously catchy Tired Donkey Song (actually one that could be used in church at Christmas), the Latin-tinged Pole Pole (slowly slowly in Swahili), and the beautiful nativity ballad So Silently. The latter two give the band the chance to show they’re at home in other styles than the jazzy blues gospel vein. Blues legend Paul Jones even pops up with some tasty harmonica on three songs.
My only slight quibble with Out of the Ashes is the style of music they major on and the lyrical content of some of the songs can feel a less than perfect fit at times. The hot jazz jauntiness of Do That Thing You Do is great to listen to but the lyric feels a bit throwaway in describing Jesus’ ministry. Similarly, Crazy Love is a delivered in sultry, bluesy style with real panache but a hard-hitting lyric on the crucifixion jars somewhat with the vibe.
Minor quibbles overall – this is one classy album that suggests Out of the Ashes live would prove a highly entertaining and engaging proposition. Highly recommended.