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Tell Me the Story
Artist: Mark Trethewey  
Label: Indie
Time: 11 Tracks 36:13
 
Cantata is a single word that best describes what comes to mind when listening to “Tell Me the Story,” Mark Tretheway’s 2nd self-produced CD.  The song styles and lyrical content could very easily be adapted into an Easter or Christmas cantata.  The flow of the CD begins with stories about Christ’s birth, through to stories of Christ’s miracles and ministry, to the final songs about his death and resurrection.  The final song is a story of the impact of Christ’s life on a believer and a fitting end to a well planned offering of songs.
 
While many albums seem hastily assembled from a collection of material, it is obvious from the first song to the last that Mark had an intention to tell the bulk of the gospel story, within the constraints of an audio CD.  He has accomplished that task quite well.
 
Mark’s self-described style is Inspirational/Folk.  Upon listening to the CD, the style leans more toward inspirational than folk.  Song samples are available in RealAudio format on Mark’s website, www.rhemasong.com   .  The instrumentation centers on acoustic piano and guitar, but is supported with strings, horns and both a drum kit as well as orchestral percussion.
 
Track 1 is an instrumental that sets up the middle-eastern influenced Track 2, "The Wise Men," which describes the journey and story of the Magi and their encounter with the baby Jesus.  Track 3 is an acoustic guitar driven laid-back folk ballad conveying the character and ministries of Christ.  Track 4, "Jesus Knee" is somewhat of a lullaby, telling some of the stories of Christ’s life on earth.  Track 5, "He’s Forgiven Me" falls more into the inspirational style and is Mary Magdalene’s and our story of forgiveness.  There may be some issue with the theology of the chorus of this song.  “He’s forgiven me/ He took away my sin and made me free / He looked within my soul and saw what He really wanted to see / And I’ll never be the same, as He’s forgiven me.”  The part about Jesus looking into our souls and seeing what He wanted to see.  Well, until we are forgiven, our souls really don’t contain what is desired by God.  Since it follows the comment about taking away our sin, it does pass that "test," but some may misinterpret the comment.  Chalk it up to rhyming rather than false teaching.
 
Track 6, "Peace" is another inspirational styled song, short and sweet, and made up of Christ’s comments about peace.  Track 7 is the story of Christ’s struggle in the garden of Gethsemane.  Track 8, "The Answer," comes closest musically, to sounding like pop music, with a majestic chorus driven with drums.  The track begins with an orchestral instrumental section that unfortunately suffers from a lack of realism, with what sounds like synthesizer-based horns tipping off the listener that there isn’t a full orchestra available.  While there are many sections of the CD that have orchestral sounding backing – this is the only section where it sounds a little artificial.  In the credits, it does list a trumpet player for track 8, so perhaps it’s the multiple tracking of the same horn which sounds somewhat unnatural.  This section is repeated as an outro for the song.  The drums were very well recorded and add to the emotion of this song which questions why Christ let himself be sacrificed – with the answer being that it is our sin which caused Christ to suffer this way.  The feeling of the song is similar to one of the most famous Easter songs of the past 35 years; Don Francisco’s "He’s Alive."
 
A near pre-requisite for any Easter Cantata is a dark, minor key influenced section to depict the sadness of Christ’s death.  On "Tell Me the Story," this is served by track 9, ‘John 3:16’.  A beautiful choral arrangement of the world’s most famous Bible verse makes up the center 1/3 of this song.
 
Track 10, "The Victor."  Near the middle of this song, Mark commits just a little bit of musical plagiarism of Handel’s Messiah with some familiar sounds from “Who is this King of Glory?” but it fits quite well and Mark couldn’t have taken musical inspiration from a better Cantata than Messiah.
 
The last track, "The Crown," shares one individual’s story of being able to wear the crown of heavenly royalty due to Christ’s defeat of sin; a fitting ending to "Tell Me the Story."
 
Now the challenge to Mark is to top this effort with something different.  He has done a great job telling the gospel story.  It will be interesting to see what his next effort will bring.
 
Scott Lake
May 31, 2006


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
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