Thursday, September 20, 2007

Messianic praise and worship with a wonderful pop sensibility

Self Titled
Artist: Meha Shamayim "From the Heavens"
Label: Galilee of the Nations Music (http://www.galileeofthenations.com/)
Time: 15 tracks/60:22 minutes

Not since Lamb, the music group that pioneered a Messianic pop sound in the 1970’s, have I heard Messianic praise and worship that I have enjoyed so much. This new pairing of Roman Wood and veteran industry producer, Leonardo Bella, have more than a little in common with the former duo, who helped shape the early sound of contemporary Christian music. Meha Shamayim’s beautiful harmonies and melodies, lyrics drawn from Scripture—sung alternately in Hebrew and English, and a joining of pop, folk and Jewish styles of music are all reminiscent of Lamb.

They distinguish themselves with minimal, clean production, a definite nod towards sixties and seventies music—including harmonica and retro guitars—and a wonderful pop sensibility along the lines of Sufjan Stevens.

They may be at their best when they let their Jewish roots shine through on sparse arrangements like "No, Not I." The words, taken from a poem by a Rabbi, are wedded to a simple Hebrew-flavored tune played on guitar and mandolin. "No, Not I" has a catchy, repetitive chorus that lingers in the memory.

"Sweet Child of Mine," though fuller in sound, is sung tenderly with simple acoustic backing that is augmented by slide guitar. Sung from God’s perspective, the soothing music conveys a comfort worthy of the God of all comfort.

The recording ends on a dramatic note with the anthem-like "Sound the Great Shofar." The song fades to the sound of a woman’s delicate background vocals, which is then followed by the sounds of a Shofar. It reflects upon the group’s name—Meha Shamayim or "from the heavens" is a reference to the place from which Messiah will return to Jerusalem.

A bonus track, the single version of the song "Glorify," follows after a brief pause. The original version opens the recording.

The CD comes with a brief companion DVD that introduces the group through short studio clips and interviews.

There’s something refreshing about the perspective and music styles of Jewish believers. They bring uniqueness to a pop landscape often dominated by sameness. This is an excellent debut, and if this group is at all reflective of the current state of Messianic music, it warrants further exploration.
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