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This fresh, sensitive and upbeat offering introduces the new sound of Tom Read - leader of Worship Central: Asia and music worship leader at The Vine Church, Hong Kong. While it's a new sound with a new take - this album also features co-written songs with Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon and Marc James so it is recognisably Worship Central and you won't be disappointed.
Compass is Tom's debut album and takes the listener on a journey through his eclectic sound-scape, held together with a core spirit born from his experience of life as a worship leader in Hong Kong. Lyrics from emotionally charged poetry together original words combine with new melodies and technically well produced harmonies to underpin his intelligent and thoughtful song-writing.
Compass CD by Tom Read was published by Kingsway in September 2012 and is our 816th best seller. The ISBN for Compass CD is 5019282332025.
Tom Read: Topping iTunes Chart in Hong Kong
Posted: Wednesday, September 26th
With hints at Rend Collective's authenticity, nods towards Worship Central's energy and embracing the Spirit-soaked urgency of Jesus Culture, 'Compass' is a journey in itself. As worship leader at The Vine church - a thriving community in Hong Kong - Tom's voice brings with it some unique experiences and perspectives. His songs, including co-writes with Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon and Marc James, are as honest as they are inspiring.
In this creative and unexpectedly sensitive rendition of Mary Elizabeth Frye’s 1932 poem, Tom Read and his band play instruments apparently made from cardboard, string and brown paper. Set on a rooftop – probably near their musical home-base of Hong Kong, the one, then three then five musicians perform against a backdrop of cut-out and coloured-in weather symbols: clouds, sun and snowflakes. The video seems to have been shot in one take, and the final sequence shows how it was done. Performers, recorders and extras are shown running around the rooftop to exchange props and costumes and get into place for the next sequence. Reacting to the graphic representation of the lyrics, the band members play and sing their way through the poem:
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
Mary Frye wrote the poem in response to the plight of a young German Jewish woman, Margaret Schwarzkopf, who was staying with her in Boston. Margaret had been warned not to return home to her seriously ill mother because of increasing anti-Jewish activity. When her mother died, the heartbroken young woman told Frye that she never had the chance to “stand by my mother’s grave and shed a tear”. Never having written poetry before, she wrote it down on a brown paper shopping bag. Because circulated in privately – and anonymously and never published or copyrighted it, there is no definitive version, though it has been recited at funerals around the world for eighty years.
The poem was introduced in Britain when it was read on BBC radio in 1995 by the father of his soldier son killed by a bomb in Northern Ireland. The authorship of the poem was established a few years later after an investigation by journalist Abigail Van Buren. Mary Frye was finally acknowledged as its writer in her 2004 Times obituary.
“Well, I can assure you all that once you purchase this album you will thoroughly enjoy it from start to finish.” – Louder Than The Music.
“Compass comes highly recommended if you’re keen to hear some fresh songs … Tom has experimented with unusual sounds and arrangements. This has resulted in a release that will simultaneously inspire, aid times of worship and entertain. Congratulations are clearly in order.” – Christian.co.uk
“I get the feeling Read is coming of age with this album, and we get to benefit from all his experience, hard work, and God-given skill.” – Thomas and Rachel Blog.
Mary Frye wrote the poem in response to the plight of a young German Jewish woman, Margaret Schwarzkopf, who was staying with her in Boston. Margaret had been warned not to return home to her seriously ill mother because of increasing anti-Jewish activity. When her mother died, the heartbroken young woman told Frye that she'd never have the chance to “stand by my mother’s grave and shed a tear”. Never having written poetry before, Mary Frye wrote down the words inspired by this heart felt pain on a brown paper shopping bag. Because the poem was only circulated privately – and anonymously - and because she never published or copyrighted it, there is no definitive version, though the poem has been recited at funerals around the world for eighty years.
The poem was introduced to Britain when it was read on BBC radio in 1995 by a father on the death of his soldier son killed by a bomb in Northern Ireland. The authorship of the poem was established a few years later after an investigation by journalist Abigail Van Buren. Mary Frye was finally acknowledged as its writer in her 2004 Times obituary.
Tom Read’s sound could be described as where Rend Collective, Gungor and Chris Tomlin collide. It’s beautiful.
I’ll be honest, sometimes I’m frustrated by the generic songs produced by Worship Central - ‘anthemic stadium rock’ has quickly lost its appeal. However, I’m SO pleased that this Worship Central artist - based in Hong Kong - genuinely brings something fresh and new.
Tom Read is an introverted, slightly awkward but obviously thoughtful musician. Not only does he have wicked guitar/vocal skills, but he also chooses to include xylophone lines on many of the tracks of his debut album ‘Compass’.
I’ve selected a few of the tracks and will give a summary of their message and flavour below:
Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep:
This song (the one for which the music video is displayed above) is taken from Mary E. Frye’s 1932 poem of the same name. I especially the xylophone in this song, which features throughout, also enjoying a delicate solo towards the end. Check out Les’s in-depth article about this song.
From Ashes to Beauty:
This song is Tom Read’s most well known, and has poignant lyrics. Tom sings ‘You turn ashes to beauty, mourning to dancing, anguish to songs of praise’. If you haven’t guessed by now, it’s a song about the restorative effect of God’s love.
The title track, this song is taken from Psalm 43 in ‘The Message’ Bible paraphrase. Often the title track is the best song on an album, but I don’t think this is the case here. This is a good song, but is perhaps edged out by the excellent competition. It’s feel is more simple and acoustic than some of the other tracks that have more diverse instruments involved. ‘Compass’ was chosen as the title track because it sums up the central themes of the album: searching, asking, seeking, finding, leading and guiding.
Broken Hearts Can Sing:
‘Hallelujah! you’re the reason broken hearts can sing, hallelujah! so let the sound of the praises ring’ - this song celebrates God’s goodness. Hallelujah - a hebrew word - literally means ‘praise God’. This song was co-written with Marc James (an excellent, if little known, songwriter and musician - known to many as an electric guitarist at Soul Survivor) and Tim Hughes.
This album has an exceptionally fresh worship sound that should propel Tom Read to global recognition. I hope that Tom continues to write songs for the church that have such an authentic sound, coupled with a well articulated message.
If you haven’t heard of Tom Read before, that might not be so surprising. Compass is only his first solo album and he is quite a long way away – in Hong Kong, China. Neither is he a natural self publicist, so you’ll not find him at the front of everything that goes on in the world of faith based music performance – well not yet.
You will find Tom’s name on a few album covers. He’s been leading worship for the last 15 years and has recorded 3 worship albums with The Vine Band. So when the producer of ‘Compass’ asked him what he wanted to do with the sound of his first solo album, Tom only knew he wanted to do something different to what he’d done before. Basically, he says, he wanted to “make a worship album that doesn’t sound like a worship album”. At the same time, he didn’t want to come across as thinking he was somehow better than those that went before.
Tom admits to being a fan of most modern worship bands over the last 10 years, and in particular of Hillsong United. For his own album, Tom’s desire was to not have the typical “wall of sound” common to many worship albums; a decision that excited his producer and the other musicians. It’s Hillsong United’s 2006 live release, “United We Stand”, which Tom Read picks out as, in his opinion, “one of the best worship albums ever made”. In Tom’s view, that album changed worship music in much the same way that Delirious did before them. This, he thought, was how his songs had to sound.
But with a growing music ministry at his own church, the problem was how to get inspiration from Hillsong United without trying to be Hillsong United. The main problem with setting your focus on someone else, as he correctly identifies, is that you could effectively stop being yourself. “When you focus on copying someone else’s music and style,” Tom says, “you end up losing your own creativity and identity”. Tom is still immensely proud of the work that he did with The Vine Band throughout Asia and beyond during his four years in Hong Kong; their ministry keeps on expanding, and they’re exposed to an ever growing audience. But he knows people are not really interested in hearing what amounts to a Hillsong United tribute band.
Because he knew his model’s formula for success, and that their songs worked, Tom had to find the courage to take a risk and try to be himself. At the back of his mind was always the worry, “what if people don’t like me? What if my songs aren’t good enough?” Eventually Tom realised that the real reason that the Australian band’s songs worked was because they were authentic to them; they were being who they were supposed to be and doing what they were supposed to do. Finally he figured out that maybe God wanted him to just be himself and not try to do what works for someone else. In other words, to be authentic to himself and write music that “reflects what God is doing in my life, in my church, in my city”.
“The great news is,” says Tom, “that now I’ve learnt that, I can just focus on who I am and what I’m called to do.” With that realisation came an acceptance that he might never travel the world, have his songs in the charts or sung in churches worldwide. Free from these concerns, Tom and the production team made some key decisions to capture the authentic sound of Tom Read. They decided to ignore the normal worship formulas and use some different approaches and instruments. They decided to make music they liked, not what they thought others might like. And they decided to avoid lyrical and musical clichés. Even so, Tom is aware that ‘Compass’ might sound like all the things he’s done before, but he’s easy with that. At least he’ll know, he says, “that’s what I genuinely sound like.” At least he can be sure that he’s made album that is authentically, Tom Read.
Click on a track name to hear a 30 second sample.
Looking for these songs on other CDs? Use our song search.
|Author / Artist||Tom Read|
|Publisher||Kingsway (September 2012)|
|Page last updated||27th August 2018|