Talented musicians make too much noise
Trevor Dick’s CD Yahweh is a passionate compilation of well-known hymns and newly written songs. The songs presented on the disc cross musical boundaries into a wide variety of genres, and could therefore appeal to a wide audience of music lovers.
Praise To the Lord, The Almighty is probably my favourite track on this album. The style is consistent for most of the song, with acoustic guitar, strings, and piano passing back and forth between melody and harmony. The violin ends with a high, non-musical sighing sound, but overall the song is pleasing to listen to.
The Ontario violinist and his band are clearly talented and able to play their instruments well. However, the overall feel of this CD is too muddy. The biggest contributor to this problem is the constant mixture of classical violin and string techniques with sudden electric guitar imitations and rock solos (Dick plays the electric violin). Both styles could definitely have their place, even on the same CD, but most likely not within the same song, or even bar of music, and especially not in almost every track of a given album. Most of the songs are simply too full of a variety of styles; the listener is pulled away in another direction before being allowed to fully enter into the music and appreciate the moment.
Fairest Lord Jesus is a particular example of this hyper-eclectic style. It includes driving, syncopated, high octave 16th-notes on the violin; electric guitar-esque violin solos complete with distortion; traditional piano and violin sections; a jazz interlude that rapidly alternates between piano, drums and acoustic guitar; and country fiddle embellishment and guitar strumming, all within about three verses of the familiar melody. It’s simply too much.
The other musical style that is mixed into most of these songs is the Celtic style. The violin lends itself naturally to a lilting melodic line, and many of the tracks take advantage of that ability. Come Thou Fount; Holy, Holy, Holy; Passion; In Christ Alone; and the interlude Calling incorporate this style, which has its relaxing moments.
Trevor Dick has toured with Robin Mark (well-known for his Celtic-style worship music), and their musical compatibility is evident in tracks such as these. However, once again, the sudden switching back and forth from Celtic to Baroque, or from Celtic to rock guitar or jazz jars me just beyond being able to sit back, relax and listen.
The more driving “rock” sound in many of the other numbers is cool, but it could be more successful if several whole tracks were dedicated to that technique, exploring it in less of a piecemeal fashion.
This album gets three out of five stars. The majority of the tracks are undecided in their identity and bursting at the seams, almost as if they are trying to be all things to all people, which just doesn’t work with music. More precision in terms of style, and less busy instrumentation would have taken this already decent album up one more notch.