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Closer Nearer
Artist: Emmaus
Label: Mother Bubba Ship Records (Irish Indie)/Grassroots (US) 
Length: 10 tracks

It's been three years since Emmaus released their live album, recorded at Dublin's famed Temple Bar. Returning to the studio, they've relaxed things a little but the core elements of strong rhythm and enticing melodies remain.

Emmaus's music has always had a worship focus and with this album they say they're returning to the roots of that. The lyrics, which almost all come from the combined pens of Tony Ryce-Kelly and Ronan Johnston, are simple and worship focused. They don't break too far from the standard praise and worship fare, but coupled with the more interesting arrangements than are to be found on most p+w releases. The lyrical highlight is probably "Out of the Depths," a setting of Psalm 120.

The band has experienced some lineup changes over the past three years but remains a loosely knit group drawn from members of the Emmaus community. While the membership may be loose knit, at its best the music is tightly woven, with a fluid, vibey rock feel exuding from tracks like "Carry." The mellowest tracks are a slightly more hit and miss affair. At times there is a simple beauty to them, but occasionally become a little too predictable.

Emmaus remain one of the more interesting worship groups around and this album's clearer focus on worship material makes for a focused and strong collection of tracks. Not every piece is a classic, but this is a good addition to the band's growing catalogue.

James Stewart 8/20/2000



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