BigWeb 2012 / Angel Air 2017
Legendary guitarist’s foray into religion for reaping heavenly harvest of placidity.
Gordon Giltrap’s oeuvre has always had air of spirituality about it, although the veteran’s means of sending message across didn’t include preaching, so this effort can be perceived as an experiment, something eternally close to the composer’s heart… especially now, when there’s poignancy in the record’s reissue that arrived a few months before the passing of its creator’s son, drum ‘n’ bass pioneer DJ Tango. The pieces gathered here – given lyrics by Rev Martin Green and voiced by Carol Lee Sampson – hail from various eras of the guitarist’s long and winding route, some of them being fairly recent, whereas vigorously insistent opener “Praise Him” runs as far back as "Fear Of The Dark" when it was called “Roots” and used to shine instrumentally. For aficionados who remember the time-tested gems’ provenance their new apperance may be a problem, as it’s difficult to avoid the feel of vocals taking away from the music’s brilliance on the likes of “First Light” rather than adding any non-verbal value to it, but try and focus on the song as a whole instead of acoustic lace in a tune’s fabric, and the entire picture will emerge to bring the album’s title home.
As a result, the soft vulnerability of “The Best Of Me” is quite hard-hitting – and blinding once it splinters into kaleidoscopic polyphony and lets strum to the fore, while the intricate, exquisite “Love Wins” and the pastoral “The Lord Is My Strength” are highly energetic thanks to the singer’s emotionally charged delivery, yet the violin woven into the latter and “This Father’s Love” quietly marries celestial baroque to a down-to-earth folk wonder. Gordon’s six strings would be left alone for “The Lord’s Seat” to fill the space with purified magnificence but, tied in in a single context with “Christmas Carol” which is as solemnly serene as befits such seasonal melody, they reveal secret subtleties of the overall concept much more effectively, and affectionately, than spoken intros to a couple cuts do. It’s the electricity-stricken “Echoes Of Heaven” – formerly known as “Sallie’s Song” – and “Elegy” in the guise of “Walk Beside Me” that become the inspired pinnacle of Giltrap’s method applied to “Peace Will Fall” to render delicate what was simply gentle before. Introverted, if never preaching, this is a triumphant attempt to speak to heaven.