Brand New Day 
Artist: Beehive 
Label: Word UK  

Beehive used to be called The Funky Beehive.  They changed possibly because it didn't have much street credibility . . . and that little snippet of trivia gives some insight into the band--namely, that their music is largely jazzy funk, and they play mainly in clubland.  Last year their profile was raised a few notches by their winning the MOBO (Music of Black Origin) award for Best Gospel Act.   

This album has more sonic depth than their live show, due to the many contributions here from key players in the Christian session-musicians league, including Terl Bryant (of Iona) with some percussive sounds, and Raul D'Oliveira, Mike Innes, and Ben Castle bringing some brass in to add to the jazzy side of the sound. 
  
The first track here immediately reminded me of Jamiroquai, and that would be a good reference point for considering this album.  It is largely within the same genre as Jamiroquai - a mixture of clubland,  jazz, funk, and britpop.  Along with the aforementioned session players, the album features DJ Diamond Sire guesting on turntables. 
  
The lyrics touch on a number of themes, from aspects of modern culture to regrets to exhortation (to both Christians and non-Christians).   Compared with many bands in a similar position, Beehive's lyrics are quite clearly Christian, decently well-written, and communicate their message fairly directly, if you take the time to examine them:  

    As I travel through my lifetime, 
    so many people that I meet, 
    greet me with smiling faces yet troubles lie beneath 
    we're all looking for the answers 
    to the questions in our minds 
    for truth and understanding in a world that's so unkind.  
    (from "Answer To Prayer")
 These lyrics are perhaps some of the more oblique, but there are more direct ones.  At times they do stray towards "cheesiness," especially on tracks like "Get Busy," which is probably the low point of the album for me - due both to the lyrics and to the cliched delivery. 
  
Kaz Lewis has won acclaim for her soulful vocals, and while I wouldn't go to the extremes that some of those writers have gone to, her singing is definitely powerful and versatile.  The other vocalist on the album is Guy Houchen, who also plays guitar, and his vocals too are good, if not as soulful as Kaz's.  Drummer John Graham and bassist Paul Lancaster put in top performances also (especially Paul's slap bass-playing), and the keyboards of Rob May hold the sound together well. 
 
My biggest problem with this album is that after the good opening track, a number of the songs tend to drag - "Brand New Day" especially brings the tempo down, and I found it difficult to keep my concentration up through the whole song. Several of the tracks suffer from this, and as a result they don't stay with me after turning off the album. 
  
In conclusion, this is a mixed bag. It has good musicianship and a fresh sound, but I personally would have gone for a different set of tracks, and would have tried for more diversity.-----James Stewart 
  
 1clock2clocks