Tom Read may not be a familiar name to people in the UK, but if you’re reading this from Hong Kong, the chances are you know exactly who he is.
The singer, songwriter and worship leader had been a part of his church’s worship band- The Vine for seven years before feeling called to go it alone.
Recorded in the UK and released through Kingsway, his debut Compass is a chirpy, uplifting and well crafted collection of ten original songs.
The talented young worship leader lists artists such as Bon Iver, Coldplay and Mat Kearney among his top albums of last year. Listening to Tom’s own songs, it’s easy to see why.
Compass has the musical excellence of Bon Iver coupled with the emotional intensity of Coldplay. Many of the melodies are as special as Mat Kearney’s too.
Over All isn’t an outstanding opening, but it sets the tone well. Follow up Do Not Stand By My Grave And Weep is superb. Utilising the best atmospheric tones and instruments (check out the accordion) available to him, Tom and his producer Dan Wheeler have created one of the most interesting worship songs I’ve heard all year.
As for the video, it's one of the best we've seen all year:
Rooted in scripture, From Ashes To Beauty is based on Isaiah 61, quoting much of the chapter directly.
The meditative Invaded By Your Love contains a soft cello and piano part. Unafraid of instrumental sections, Tom avoids the pitfall of packing lyrics into every spare moment. Allowing the music and lyrics to work together, almost all of the songs are spacious. Thanks to his attention to detail, Tom's mid tempo tunes like Come and Broken Hearts Can Sing are suprisingly memorable.
Title track Compass builds into a beautiful bridge section that focuses on God’s guidance through life. While some may already recognise the song (it was included on a Worship Central compilation) for the majority of listeners, all ten songs will be brand new.
There’s plenty to delight the musically minded. Gentle acoustic guitar picks, string sections and choirs of voices abound. Lyrically, Tom does well to avoid overused clichés. There’s a maturity to his sound that goes beyond his years.
Lovers of acoustic and pop music with a worshipful and congregational edge will adore this release. While a few more up beat tracks would have been preferable, overall this is an impressive debut.
Compass comes highly recommended if you’re keen to hear some fresh songs. It’s a brave first effort from the singer. Rather than playing it safe, Tom has experimented with unusual sounds and arrangements. This has resulted in a release that will simultaneously inspire, aid times of worship and entertain. There are few albums that can claim to do all of these things at once, but Tom has managed it on a first attempt! Congratulations are clearly in order.
Rating: 4 out of 5
September 4th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes