Promise Land 
Artist: Sue Rinaldi 
Label: Survivor/Kingsway (UK) 
Time: 11 tracks/58.06 

From a brief appearance in the UK charts in the late 80s with Heartbeat, to leading worship at Wembley Stadium last year, Sue Rinaldi can hardly be accused of keeping a low profile in British Christian circles. This is her second solo effort, and follows 1994's Love Eternal, an album that is perhaps better passed over.... 

From the first track it is easy to see that the production values are higher on this project than on its predecessor. The arrangements are stronger here, although still not great. The material is a mix of worship and performance-oriented material, but it may prove difficult for some to use in worship because of Sue's rather unusual voice. 

That voice seems to be one that people either love or hate. In places she actually sounds quite masculine, but mostly she's on the deep end of the female vocal scale. Her voice often sounds a little strained also, which is a shame. Musically, I really like the laid-back "Time And Again," a song with a drum machine beat and gentle sounds scattered on top, but the vocals don't seem to fit the instrumentation terribly well - not ethereal enough. 

The songs vary from the delirious? and brit-pop-influenced sound of the opener, to some seemingly mellow, Portishead-influenced sounds that are mixed in. The arrangements do tend to be a bit dry and stretched out, although there are some strings added in places for a little variety, and some nice guitar arpeggios popping up now and then. 

delirious? definitely seems to have been an influence on Sue's songwriting, both musically and lyrically, as do Noel Richards and Matt Redman -- their  influences aren't overwhelming but certainly do crop up. 

Lyrically, the album mixes songs filled with wonder, excitement, and looking to Christ's return. The lyrics are fairly well-written, with a number of hooks to allow people to sing along, but in places I feel they suffer from being too simplistic, and I'm not sure how appropriate I'd find them in a worship setting. 

The particular movement within the church that Sue Rinaldi is involved in is very interested in the idea of 'revival,' and that is a theme which crops up throughout this album. This is particularly clear on "Redemption Street." Focusing on a drum machine-driven beat and the occasional guitar lick before bringing in lightly distorted, driving guitar on the chorus, the song will probably do well at youth gatherings with its sing-along lyrics: 

     Let's go down to Redemption Street 
     The lost are found at Redemption Street 
     Let's go down to Redemption Street 
     Come and drink from the well at Redemption Street
 The standout track is probably the next one, "Lay Myself Down."  It is  an atmospheric song with only keyboard swirls really audible for most of the song: 
     I will follow You to the cross 
     And lay myself down, lay myself down 
     Rid me of these dirty clothes 
     Cleanse me from all this pollution 
     I choose to walk in purity 
     Purify me, purify me
Overall, however, this album is very patchy. There are some good ideas and combinations of ideas, but none of the songs really shine, and most of the chord progressions are a little tired. Maybe some of them will translate live, but here they are nothing more than average. 

By James Stewart