Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Silent Planet had the best venue going at Cornerstone 2000 with its "Acoustic Stage," concluding with a showcase of their terrific stable of artists on the fest's final day. The sets turned in by Jan Krist, Phil Madiera, and Terry Taylor were among the highlights of the festival for this reviewer.
Taylor was inked too recently to have made this label sampler, but it still accomplishes its task well, whetting one's appetite for more of the 13 artists represented. Acoustic singer-songwriters are the order of the day here, but varying from this are Krist's "God Have Mercy," colored with warmly distorted electric guitar and an accordion break, Madeira's jaunty fiddle and B-3-driven "Mysterious Ways," Skatman Meredith channeling Matthew Sweet on "Euphoria," John Fischer's folk-rocking "Some Folks' World," and a tasty piano/hammered dulcimer instrumental from Jerry & Lisa Smith.
The latest recordings by noted folkies Pierce Pettis and Brooks Williams are being distributed by Silent Planet and fine tracks from each appear here. A compilation of songs from Williams' out-of-print indie and Green Linnet albums is out now on the label, as well.
Among the others, Steve Black, whose warm, rich voice recalls Gordon Lightfoot, stands out, as does Claire Holley's Appalachian folk gospel tune, which is reminscent of Gillian Welch. Allen Levi checks in with an upbeat Jim Croce-like tune and Matt Jones brings a brooding track that sounds like Toad the Wet Sprocket re-formed and added a slide guitarist and nimble mandolin player. Matt Auten sounds like a far less dynamic version of Brooks Williams or James Taylor. Rick Unruh turns in a nice song, but his voice isn't terribly distinctive. In addition, there are unreleased tracks from Krist, Black, Auten, and Meredith.
This label is definitely
worth keeping an eye on.The new records by Krist, Black, and Madeira have
Dave Draeger 07/27/2000
Silent Planet Records has,
over the past few years, signed a group of artists that reads like a Who's
Who in Christian folk-rock music, including John Fischer, Jan Krist, Pierce
Pettis and Brooks Williams.
Krist's two tunes, while good, are not quite up to the standard of her acclaimed album Curious (which Silent Planet has recently re-released).While "God Have Mercy" and "That's the Day I Fall" on the present sampler capture the plaintive aspect of her voice well, the vocal power Krist exhibits elsewhere is lacking. That said, an average Krist song is still well worth hearing.
Matt Auten's vocals are laid back and comfortable, reminding the listener more than a little of Bob Bennett. Steve Black is more in the everyman-singer/songwriter mold; his voice and guitar-playing are less polished (which does not hurt his songs any), his lyrics very personal and engaging. Skatman Meredith is more ambitious and introspective in his lyrics, though not always successful.
There are a few real and pleasant surprises on this album in the single tracks by some of the other Silent Planet artists. John Fischer, Phil Madeira, Rick Unruh, Jerry and Lisa Smith, Brooks Williams, Claire Holley, Pierce Pettis, Allen Levi, and Matt Jones have one song each. Phil Madeira has written songs and played hammond organ for a bewildering variety of artists. "Mysterious Ways" showcases Madeira's talents, while the lyrics describe his own experiences as an alien and a stranger feeling at home at last in the midst of a performing tour in the British midlands. "Top Down Holiday," Levi's infections ode to the "God's in His Heaven, All's right with the world" joy of a warm sunny summer day provoked this listener to hit the repeat button. Claire Holley's "In the Bounty of the Lord" showcases her roots in traditional music in fine style. One could easily imagine earlier generations singing this song, though Holley wrote it herself in the 1990s.
The album also contains two
fine rereleases from Pierce Pettis and Brooks Williams. "Kingdom Come,"
from Pettis's latest album, is Pettis at his finest. Everything, music,
lyrics and vocal performance, vividly convey faith at the center
of life at its most turbulent. "House of Truth," from Williams album
"Hundred Year Shadow" showcases some fine guitar playing and Williams intellectual
grappling with faith and doubt.
Silent Planet's stated goal is albums that are "acoustically grounded, lyrically intelligent, and spiritually provocative." Fans of folk-rock who are searching for such artists will enjoy this sampler and the work of the label's artists.
Chris Parks 8/11/2000