It’s an uncomfortable and inconvenient truth that some artists fall into the habit of releasing records which all sound the same. While some would argue in favour of formulas and adopt an ‘if it aint broke don’t fix it’ attitude, the greatest artists progress. Stuart Townend is a fantastiexample of an artist who is boldly moving forward into new musical territory. His 2011 release The Journey was one of the most original albums of that year. Now in 2014, the Brighton based worship leader has again released a remarkable and impressive collection of songs titled The Paths of Grace.
This record contains a wealth of profound lyrics. It’s not always easy to write lyrics that are both theologically sound and original. But Stuart has again risen to the challenge. The folk sound permeates throughout the record. Rather than following the upbeat, pop orientated folk sound made popular by Rend Collective, Stuart has developed a more mature, contemplative and authentic tone. In places he’s even managed to combine this sound with his talent for hymn writing.
Stuart has also been selfless in the way he’s collaborated - even handing the lead vocals of entire songs over to others. There are other surprises too: “Singing Hallelujah” has a Christmastime quality to it, “The Lord’s Prayer” is set to a Celtic folk inspired melody and the title track is intriguingly sub titled ‘Diary of an Agnostic’.
Those who still associate the much-loved Christian songwriter with “In Christ Alone” would do well to discover Stuart’s more recent tunes. This is a stand out record that deserves a very wide hearing.
July 17th, 2015 - Posted & Written by Together Magazine