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The Time Project
Artist: Various, incl. Mal Pope, Julie Costello, Adrian Plass
Label: Soul Café Music 
Time: 15 tracks / 44 mins

Teaser:  Music and spoken word concept album from ‘City of Gold’ team benefits UK hospice

At the turn of the century, Phil Baggaley organised a short series of discs, which mixed music and spoken word around a theme. These became known as the City of Gold releases, named after the first, which collected thoughts about the hope of heaven. They also covered failure (Shipwrecks and Islands) and the life of the disciple Peter. 
This one is a charity release, with its profits going to Douglas and Helen House, the world’s first children’s and young adults’ hospices, based in Oxford. They aim to provide a family-like environment for the terminally ill children and youth they look after, concentrating on depth of care. This project is themed around time – how fast it goes, the memories it gives, and especially how we use it – and could be very poignant for visitors to the hospices.

Phil Baggaley has assembled largely the same crew as for the City Of Gold series: Mal Pope and Julie Costello both have warm voices that wrap beautifully around their songs, while newer members Pete Webb and Jo Carlier have voices that fit well with the others. Adrian Plass handles all spoken words and Dave Prentice supplies some very enjoyable bass.

Overall, the musical tracks are melodic, safe and easy-going, the conservative production sometimes sounding a little last century. Phil Baggaley’s songs have a recognisable catchiness, but rarely stay in the head for too long (although “Drive” has a fuller pop feel and reminds me of All Star United’s eponymous track).

The highlights are mostly Adrian Plass’s readings, although not all are his poems: there is "Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8" and the anonymous “If I Had to Live My Life Over,” which is gently inspiring, inviting us to think about how we live our lives and what will have been worthwhile at the end. “I’d dare to make more mistakes next time… I would take more chances… I would take fewer things seriously… I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones…”

Mal Pope singing the Alwyn Wall song “Time,” which is reprised the end, is another high. Its haunting tune carries a mix of promise and warning: “Time the most precious gift / You can’t bring it back when it’s gone / Time reveals your enemies /Time confirms your friends / Time reveals God’s promises time and time again / So use it well / Time waits for no man and it won’t wait for you.”

This release does not quite have the impact that earlier ones had, but is pleasant and gently inspiring and could make a good gift for someone with thoughtful, middle of the road tastes.

At the time of writing, the only postal supplier I can find is Amazon, although the hospices have previously had it in stock ( 

Derek Walker


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