In the two-CD effort Why Not Sea Monsters? Songs from the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, (Carpet Square) Justin Roberts steers clear of any ham-fisted agenda while staying faithful to the power and majesty of the Bible stories, and making them his stories. On the “Hebrew Scriptures” CD, Roberts gets things off to a clever start with “Why Not a Spark?” Singing in a style that suggests John Lennon, James Taylor and Glenn Tilbrook, Roberts lays out the tale of creation as if God were a smiling child in a swirling cosmic sandbox: “On the fourth day / God said, Where are the stars? / Where’s Mercury, Venus and Mars?/ Where’s all those old rusty cars? / Wait, that’s later!”
The British band Delirious has always been smart, drawing comparisons to U2, Radiohead and Blur. With the album The Mission Bell, the band shoots for added lyrical depth and force. “Our God Reigns,” a key-of-D dirge built around spare acoustic guitar, keyboards and thunderous percussion, may be the hardest-hitting piece, tacking issues like abortion and the AIDS pandemic. (“My Chinese take away/ Could pay for someone’s drugs.”) “Love Is a Miracle” alternates between smoldering, soulful verses and wide-open, gospel-flavored choruses, while “Paint the Town Red” rocks as hard as anything Delirious has ever cut.
Everything In BetweenSelf-released, Christian rockDanny OertliBalancing all-American rock with ballads, Danny Oertli is a Christian musician with a difference. When he sings "Thank You, Jesus, for keeping hope alive" on "Mommy Paints the Sky," he know what he's singing about—the song is inspired by the death of his high-school sweetheart, who had become his wife. In the same album, Oertli proves he can rock in "Fight for Me" (with its dirty Wurlitzer electric piano) and in the breathless, pulsing "Nothing."
Day of ColoursReal World Records, World music/QawwaliRizwan-Muazzam QawwaliThe brothers Rizwan and Muazzam, nephews of the late Sufi singing great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, deliver a majestic album. Imagine the droning power of Gregorian chant melded with the expressiveness of blues shouters. With the simple instrumentation of harmonium and tablas, Colours addresses spiritual themes central to the Qawwali tradition. “Light of My Life,” a Persian song in praise of Allah, is particularly arresting.