Amazed 
Artist: Brown Bear Music 
Label: Alliance Music (UK) 
Time: 11 tracks/44.41 

These guys have been kicking around in the UK scene for a number of years now. Born from a church fellowship which meets in a London pub (the Brown Bear Fellowship), they've recorded a couple of private releases and specialize in worship music influenced by dance and various indie styles.  

The album starts off with a drum beat, and various samples from current affairs broadcasts. The rich, mid-range male vocals soon come with a breathy quality to them that suggest a certain amount of urgency. Guitars are brought in, and the track moves into pop territory. 

The whole album has a fairly accessible sound. Pop mixed with some rock/pop-alternative and dance elements. Some of the songs would probably not be too difficult to incorporate in a youth service setting, although the variety of sounds and production mean that this is not an amateurish recording but an enjoyable listen. There are a number of instrumental sections built into the songs, which can help an atmosphere of worship or show that the instruments (mainly keyboards, guitars, bass, drums, with some programming and DJing in places) mesh well and produce a slick sound. 

A couple of the tracks here were covered on the Spring Harvest rage album this year, but on the whole I prefer those versions, with their more cutting edge production. One of those tracks is "Waiting for the Healing": 

    We've got to see an end to the pain 
    The tears and the hurting 
    How long must we wait for you to move 
    And bring an end to the suffering? 

    We're waiting for the healing, for the healing 

    We're longing for your light to shine and start a new day 
    All your promises to take hold and become a reality

The song is given a delicate treatment. A mixture of programmed beats, delicately strummed acoustic guitar, with some chugging keyboards punctuating things (although at the back of the mix). Towards the end, as it looks to the coming of Christ, things build up with group backing vocals and more sweeping keyboards. 

Probably the most interesting track is "Beyond The Fridge." The title would seem to refer to the numerous issues surrounding fertility treatments, and other "pre-birth" ethical issues. The lyrics are curious, seeming to look at one person's life, but with a number of different questions and themes built in. 

    Perhaps if babies were born fully clothed for combat you would still be here 
    Your head carefully covered with a brown leather hat and ear flaps 
    Your hands gloved with the slaughtered lamb's woolly warm love 
    Your life made tangible by breath marks printed on the air 
    Your neatly booted feet walking easily on a world of tightly frozen dreams 
    Perhaps if babies were born fully clothed for combat you would stil be here
and 
    Perhaps you would have climbed life's mountain peaks with caution and revere 
    Instead of shouting for your rights, 
    "GOD! I command you to put me down!" 
    And when your Grandfather met his son-in-law he said 
    "God help my daughter!" 
    And did God help? The days we prayed. Your fear of hell. 
    My C. S. Lewis theology 
    Your question, "Can God rescue someone if there's hardly anything of them left?" 
    And we prayed God would rescue you, clothe you for the ice cold combat here.
Some lyrics are sung, some are spoken, and some have both treatments. The song starts with swirling keyboards, and these continue throughout, along with a gentle beat--at times the sound is almost hypnotic. 

There is more to UK worship music than delirious? and Matt Redman, and there is more to Brown Bear Music than worship songs. At times the sound is not anything grabbing, but "Beyond The Fridge" makes it for me. 

By James Stewart