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My Soul Sings
Artist:  Delirious?
Label:  Furious?
Time:   CD: 14 Tracks / 73 mins
            DVD: 14Tracks / 75 mins

Sometimes with this band, you really can tell a CD by its cover. The brilliant Mezzamorphis had a rich blue high-tech styled front (at least in the UK) that matched the blips and stops in the plainly Radiohead-influenced music; Kingdom of Comfort had a whited-out look that showed they had stopped the gravy-training and started afresh. This one, recorded in front of 12,000 excited punters in Columbia, has a fuzzy, messy cover that hints at the hit-and-miss nature of some tracks inside and the lighting on the DVD. “What lighting?” you ask. Exactly. It looks like it was filmed in the middle of the night, lit by a dozen battery-powered torches.

The band’s website claims: “The tracks included do a perfect job of narrating the journey that Delirious? have been on over the years. ‘Deeper’, ‘History Maker’ and ‘Bliss’ represent the optimism of the early days, while ‘God’s Romance’, ‘Rain Down’ and ‘Majesty’ draw on the band’s middle phase that saw them in search of the very heart of God. ‘Kingdom of Comfort’, ‘Break the Silence’ and ‘My Soul Sings’ add colours from the recent albums.” While it is true that the disc does the job of summarising their journey, which is due to end in a few months’ time, the tracklist is not the best it could be.

Of course this is subjective, and it depends on what you most like about Delirious? Those who thrill to the sound of middling mainstream tracks like “Majesty” will be delighted with this selection. But that track and its sibling “Rain Down” have already been given plenty of live attention. If covering the whole journey is the idea, what about filling in the gaps a bit with tracks like the zinging “Follow” from Mezzamorphis? Even more to the point, Kingdom of Comfort was a marked return to form from the water-treading period and was crackling with tracks that deserved a live outing, such as the near-glam “Give It What You’ve Got” (or even the gently-soaring “Eagle Rider” if feeling brave).

But perhaps this is too negative. While the CD can feel somewhat lacklustre, containing quite a bit that we have already heard from the band, it does have fine moments:  “Bliss” is a reminder of arguably their best era; the Kingdom Of Comfort bonus track “Hallelujah” gets a well-deserved outing; and even if that album’s title track and “Stare the Monster Down” are not my first choice cuts from the disc, they have got it right here by including two thirds of that release in some form.

The main disc in this set is the DVD, because it shows what is really going on. Lighting aside, this has plenty of good stuff on it right from the start. If the strong opener “Rain Down” (the best that I have heard this song) shows off their U2 influence, “Bliss” shows off their old tricks, starting in monochrome, featuring megaphone and voicebox vocals, then bursting into colour for the choruses.

The Kingdom of Comfort material begins with “God is Smiling” and continues with “Love Will Find a Way,” which records their reaction to coming face-to-face with outright poverty while staying in “the five-star dream.” It is a prayer that God would find them a way through the horror, guilt and feelings of powerlessness. ”All God’s Children” and the essential ““How Sweet the Name” are the calm eye of this DVD hurricane.  For the former, Martin Smith is surrounded by twenty-odd children on stage, singing the chorus; and for the latter he is at a piano in the crowd for the quiet part, letting the band crash in from main stage for the climax. It is probably a DVD-only track because the cracks in his voice show a bit on the slower ones, and audio without visuals would not do his effort justice.

The old and the new pair up nicely on “History Maker.” During the song, Smith wraps a Columbian flag around him and reads from the bible: “This is the fast that I require ... to free the oppressed and seek justice.” He adds his own words, “Church is the biggest people movement on the face of the planet and it’s time for us to find our voice and speak out for those who do not have a voice,” rightly reminding us that there are over a billion people who cannot find fresh water. This fallout from his recent experiences of poverty highlights what issues history makers might get involved in. The title line to “Break the Silence” concludes this very neatly, although playing the whole song after that seems a bit superfluous.

The title track of Kingdom of Comfort is evidently the start of the encore and the band return in white, with Martin Smith sitting on his throne, crowned (literally) with a selection of gadgets – IPod, remote control, CD, and so on.

For “Stare the Monster Down,” we get a screen split horizontally with one half split further into three, and the editing gets a beautiful visual balance to the frames in a way that somehow conveys the energy of the song. It’s very pleasing.

The gig ends with the dreamy title track to this pack, which looks sumptuous in blue light (a shot of which would have made a far better cover). It works as a come down track that lets the crowd savour the moment, while simultaneously retaining something of the gig’s anthemic mood.

This release does the job well, but a more adventurous track-listing and plenty more lighting could have made it outstanding. The web site reveals that the band is due to release a greatest hits album this year, and record the final November gig for a possible DVD release. Unless you are a completist, I would hold off buying this one until we know what that will be like, as the visuals at least are almost guaranteed to be far superior.

Derek Walker

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