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Book of Lightning
Artist: The Waterboys 
Label: Import 

Mike Scott is a flighty one, a musical fidget, shifting along on the waves of his Waterboys muse, never settling and always making intriguing albums as a result. After the light of spiritual acoustic reflection that was Universal Hall, here comes the dark side of the man and the world. "It’s Gonna Rain" has that Waterboys strut and the strut is menacing with its judgement of doom. In "Sustain," he is sustaining himself through storms and in the re-recording of "You In the Sky," there are clouds between him and the Lord. Spirituality, that has been Scott’s muse for sometime has moments of purist clarity and other times of struggle, tainted, and stained. This is such an album. Love is as likely to shoot you down ("Love Will Shoot Yu Down") or curtail your freedom with a controlling non-love ("She Tried To Hold Me)". Faith is still there as its source, strong, and never doubted but it is taking a rattling and battering from a world not perfect. And Scott doesn’t point fingers and cast blame at every Eve the Lord gave him. He is aware of the consequences of his own often wrong decisions - “I know I created it/But I never planned it” (Strange Arrangement)

Lyrically, everything is adventurous. Again there is a marked difference from _Universal Hall_ when Scott was obsessed with an economy of words for almost meditative effect. "Book of Thunder" doesn’t use a couplet when a tumble of ten will do and everyone is poetic, unique, often quirky, occasionally awful but always causing consideration. There are a lot of lines and rhymes to keep a mystic in meditation. 

I have to confess that my first few listens were disappointing but a few listens in and suddenly there are comets blazing trails again. Perhaps it is the fact that fiddling wizard Steve Wickham doesn’t appear until the third track.  From the distant past comes Roddy Lorimer trumpet to add that Big Music to the epic piano called "Sustain." Wickham is still the musical core that the spiritual is to Scott’s lyrics and "Everybody Takes a Tumble" sees the Irishman take us back to the glory _Fisherman’s Blues_ days. In the end after my initial caution this has been one of my most played albums of the past month. It’s energy and poetic stimulation giving plenty of reasons to keep returning.

Steve Stockman 

Steve Stockman is the Presbyterian Chaplain at Queens University, Belfast, Ireland, where he lives in community with 88 students. He has written two books Walk On; The Spiritual Journey of U2 which he is currently updating and The Rock Cries Out; Discovering Eternal Truth in Unlikely Music. He dabbles in poetry and songwriting and he has a weekly radio show on BBC Radio Ulster (listen anytime of day or night @ He has his own web page--Rhythms of Redemption at . He also tries to spend some time with his wife Janice and daughters Caitlin and Jasmine.


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