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April 2002 Pick of the Month

Brand New Ache
Artist: Chris Taylor 
Label: Indie

Texas based Chris Taylor takes a side step away from the contemporary Christian music industry and his contract with Rhythm House Records to bring out an independent album that reveals him to be getting better all the time. These are the songs of a man whose obvious maturity has come at some cost. He writes on the cover, “my life took a downward spiral…suffered through a break up, lots of chaos around my world. I felt things I’ve never felt before. New doubts, new frustrations, new strengths, new found weakness, new anger, new mercies, new grace and brand new ache.” It is not the stuff of CCM albums. He goes on, “It’s the inside of my head, the belly of my heart, the walls of my soul.”

And so it is. Taylor has always been almost too articulate for CCM with that flair for the lyrical surprise that tumbles and turns words for maximum effect. The effect here has never been so raw and bloody. To a sound that sits somewhere between Mellencamp’s acoustic mid American blue collar drive and Karl Wallinger’s pop rock, Taylor twists truths to open up new vistas of meaning and experience. Indeed "Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" is almost pure World Party and there is a whispered word in the preceding track "Ain’t Life Sweet" that has you doing a double take as to whether Wallinger’s old cohort Mike Scott has joined the band. 

To get back to the words, in the all too brief, opener "Where to Begin?" The crux of the tale is laid before us as the words of Jesus are turned inside out – “I’m a nowhere man/Since the day the truth set you free.” It won’t be the last time that the Beatles get a quote, the albums best track Supreme being about “All you need is love” but reckoning it has to be more than a word, but where the albums scene is set is in that downside of the truth, setting a partner free but leaving a trail of blood on the tracks as she leaves. It is that blood on these tracks that makes this album stand out in that CCM filed where Taylor has made his name. Brave and bold something beautiful out of such a deep and painful ache. 

Steve Stockman
 
 

Steve Stockman is the Presbyterian Chaplain at Queens University, Belfast, Ireland, where he lives in community with 88 students. He has just finished a book on U2 - Walk On; The Spiritual Journey Of U2, is the poetic half of Stevenson and Samuel who have just released their debut album Gracenotes and he has a weekly radio show on BBC Radio Ulster. He has his own web page - Rhythms of Redemption at http://stocki.ni.org. He also tries to spend some time with his wife Janice and daughters Caitlin and Jasmine.

 
 
 
 
 

 

   
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