About Me

My photo
Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
Broadcaster, musician, song writer, tea drinker and curry lover.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Francesca Battistelli - My Paper Heart

It's not often that I get REALLY excited about a cd, but since September, two have come along that I can barely keep off my iPod. The first was Lincoln Brewster's fabulous "Today Is The Day" album, and now the debut from major label hotshot Francesca Battistelli.

What makes this album doubly exciting is that Battistelli is a committed, and very open Christian, a fact which comes over loud and clear on this Warner Brothers/Curb release.

Aside from a very cute paper heart shaped lyric booklet, you first notice just how mature a songwriter this 23 year old from New York City really is.

Immediate reference points I guess (although I really don't like having to do that) would be Sara Bareilles with a possible hint of Nichole Nordeman, but musically Francesca sails a lot closer to Bareilles, as the more up-tempo songs have some real guts and groove without being musically overbearing.

It's not often you can say, hand on heart, that there is not one poor song, or filler on a record, but I can honestly say this applies here.

There are three types of song really on display here; the uptempo rockers (opener "Free To Be Me", "Unpredictable"), the songs with a groove (the excellent funky title track along with "Blue Sky") and then the ballads, which on this album are not just used as quiet interludes, but which are quality songs in themselves.

Recent single "Beautiful Beautiful" is a sensitive worship song in which Francesca sings

"Now there's a joy inside I can't contain/But even perfect days can end in rain/And though it's pouring down/I see you through the clouds/Shining on my face"

The brilliantly simple worship song "Forever Love" which I could easily see being sung in churches accross the land, and closer "Time In Between", which is again very cleverly written.

The playing is at all times sympathetic and never overshadows Battistelli's work, and her voice itself is a tour de force; at times a powerful growl, at other times a soft purr, but always mesmerising.

This album will easily sit in my top 3 for 2008. Francesca is coming to Medford in November, and I for one cannot wait to hear her in person.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A subtle way to argue?

In my near 18 months in this great nation, I have noticed one (among many) interesting thing about Democrats who appear on TV and radio news channels.

It would appear that they have decided that they are unable to win the argument in a rational and calm fashion, so they have taken - almost without exception - to attempting to shout and bully as loud and as stridently as possible.

Time after time on TV I see Democrats trying to yell and bully their way to what they appear to see as some kind of victory.

What they do not appear to realize is that apart from making them look increasingly uncouth, irrational and dismissive of any contrary opinion, far more importantly they are shown up as desperate and childish in their crazed mission for power at all costs.

The American nation will not be fooled.

Friday, October 3, 2008


So this is the third - and eagerly anticpiated - production from Sherwood Baptist Church and the Kendrick brothers, following the lead of their first movie "Flywheel" by focusing in on husband/wife relationships, but this time in the context of a firefighter, played by former child TV star Kirk Cameron.

The story concentrates on the story of a marriage gone bad and how divorce proceedings are put on hold while the husband is challenged to a 40-day dare.

Let's be frank; Fireproof isn't going to win any Oscars, but I'm sure that is not anywhere on the list of priorities of the film makers. What's important to them, and what is by far the most striking thing about the movie is the pro-marriage, pro-family message, and that shines out loud and clear, although sometimes at the expense of smooth narrative.

There are some weaknesses, and it would be remiss of me not to point them out.

In my opinion, the opening set-up of why Caleb and Catherine are so bitter towards one another isn't really established, with the result that Caleb flies off the handle frequently at his wife without there seeming to be any real reason. Several times his rage seems totally disproportionate to his wife's behavior. Now to married people, this may make perfect sense, but singles may not get that.

Whilst the main body of the movie is fine, I also had problems with the ending, or rather, endings. The Kendricks just don't seem to know when to stop the movie. Two or three times we reach melodramatic climaxes and expect credits to roll, only to be propelled into yet another emotional scene.

Whilst I could also gripe about some really cheesy moments and a few rather cheesy acting performances, let's be fair, a lot of the actors are first-timers, and there are some really strong performances, underpinned by Cameron, who is powerful and authentic as Caleb. There are also some very deft comic touches (although some are a bit less subtle than they need be, as if the director wants to make sure the audience knows what's happening when they already will),

The music throughout is well chosen and very well positioned. Particularly noteworthy are Casting Crowns' "Slow Fade" and John Waller's "While I'm Waiting". Look out also for songs by Third Day and Leeland.

Overall, as I've said, this movie is important mainly for it's message and not it's production values (although it is definitely streets ahead of its two predecessors in that area), and I'm sure it will be an important ministry resource along with the "Love Dare" book that's already been published along with a number of other products.

My only concern I guess would be getting non-believers to see the movie, especially when those in the secular field who don't understand it's mission have already started panning it for it's low budget deficiencies.

But I pray that God will use it, as there is no doubt that this is one of the more important movies of the year.