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Salvation in Lights
Artist: Mike Farris
Label: INO Records
Length: 11 tracks / 45 mins

Feeling down? Here is some highly effective medication. Like lava from the Earth's crust, intoxicating soul seeps, oozes and explodes from this superb disc. White men singing the gospel-blues hybrid doesn't come much better than this and sometimes you even catch an echo of Al Green in Farris's vocals. 

He builds on some fairly solid foundations, with classic material such as Sit Down Servant, Oh Mary Don't You Weep (which both come with a New Orleans jazz coating) and Thomas A. Dorsey's Precious Lord, Take My Hand. 

But this is no second-hand covers album. When Farris writes his own material, he shows a particularly strong blues tendency and knows how to pen a hook or three. Devil Don't Sleep has a Buddy Miller-like guitar sound, while his memorable Selah! Selah!, like a composite of Dylan's first two Christian albums, rides on a soulful, bluesy groove.

Getting anything like an authentic sound takes a whole team. All tracks but one feature backing singers, such as Ann McCrary, to give a genuine gospel flavour, while a variety of brass sections and some hot piano keep the disc in overdrive. When it finishes, you will still want even more.

Salvation in Lights sweats gospel and spans the emotional range from joyous gospel to smouldering blues. This no-risk purchase has to be in the year's top ten!

Derek Walker


Former leader of the psychedelic rock group Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies, Mike Farris is this year's version of Neil Morse - a standout in his field that has recorded a definitively Christian album that does not lose anything in terms of musical quality. Salvation in Lights is a revelation in terms of style, because no one else is doing music that sounds remotely like this. A joyous mixture of New Orleans style jazz, blues, and gospel, the album is comprised of six Farris originals and five standards. 

"Change is Gonna Come" does Sam Cooke proud, while "Can't No Grave Hold My Body Down" is raised to a new level. Farris has a rich tone to his vocals that recalls Will Hoge or Marc Broussard at moments, but his range surpasses both of them. "Sit Down Servant", an original, beholds a new arrival on his first day in Heaven, and the joy that he feels impossible to contain. Gospel standby "Take Me (I'll Take You There)" is unrestrained Farris sounding almost like Ray Charles. Comparisons to Reverend Al Green or Bill Withers are not unwarranted either. 

Talking about this disc any more would be overkill. Salvation In Lights may be the album of the year.

Brian A. Smith
7 September 2007



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