The Phantom Tollbooth

Spring Harvest New Songs '99
Artist: Various
Label: ICC Records
Length: 12 tracks/52.30

This annual resume of the last year's new worship songs is well established in its quarter of the British music market. The albums generally collect a group of top-class musicians, and make use of them in a less-than-inspiring manner. This year, they seem to have taken that idea to an extreme.
There are plenty of new worship songs being written within the worldwide church, but, from the sound of this collection, there are very few ideas left in the writers' heads. These songs suffer from a distinctly anemic setting, and, in general, there's little in the way of lyrics or melodies to keep listeners' attention--whatever the setting.
The arrangements are fairly simple, making extensive use of synthesizers. Unfortunately, the effect achieved is not the meditative atmosphere that appears to have been aimed for, but a collection of tunes that sounds rather like the piped music many people find so aggravating in public places.
Overall, this is a disappointing release. Although some of the songs have sounded better when recorded by their writers, there is little to excite here--either in the writing or in the production.

Spring Harvest has a powerful platform to promote what's best in worship music. Hopefully, next year that's what we'll get.
James Stewart (6/13/99)