Music Review: Lament by Tom Read

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Updated January 21, 2019
Lament Album Cover
Tom Read - Dead Things to Life (Official Video)

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Every human is looking for authenticity- in relationships, in love, work and life (nowadays more than ever in the light of social media). Tom’s songs continue to provide a soundtrack to this search- an honest and compelling outpouring of a man simply looking for more. An outpouring that can be picked up and used by the church at large.

“The more honest I was with my songs, the more I felt I was able to worship authentically. It's not always been comfortable, but through it I've discovered that lament is one of the most natural, powerful, and beautiful ways we can worship.”

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Lament by Tom Read
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Personal Rating 
"Lament" as an album title doesn't exactly sit well alongside the many titles we have in worship music these days. Much of the output of the Christian worship scene is praise, vibrant, joyful, even exuberant. Tom Read though is writing from and into a place where many of us spend at least some of our time. The place where we are lost, frustrated, unanswered and questioning, with a hope and a confidence of something greater than us, but often He is silent. Through loss and hurt there is a place of tenderness that exposes our heart to cry out to God in lament, and this is as Biblical as every version of "Amazing Grace", or every exuberant reminder of God's goodness in our lives.

The EP starts with "Masks" which is about how we often put a mask over our lives, especially in church and in worship. In this song it is about actually opening up before God and being real. The Bible talks about people honouring God with their lips but their hearts being far from God, and we interpret this as religion, but actually when we aren't being real about our lives when we come to God, this is just as bad. That's not to say we cannot praise when we don't feel like it, in fact that is a sacrifice, but you can still be real about your life and your situation and that too is part of this recording. The later track "The Valley" expresses this brilliantly, despite being in that position, being honest with his situation he can still song Hallelujah. This track will translate well to churches because it acknowledges the situation yet raises praise. This will undoubtedly resonate with many people.

"Masks" opens with God beckoning us to "Let down your walls and come away with me." Despite seeing the worst of us, God see's it all and loves us the same, we don't need to hide and we can be totally enveloped by the embrace of a loving Father. All of this is wrapped up in a very vulnerable soft vocal with minimal backing, and some lovely touches heading into the chorus which has a contrasting boldness strengthened by God's love. 

I love the lyrics that say "There's a gravity to your grace / which draws me to my knees." It's quite simple, it reminds us that there is a response expected of us for the freedom of God's grace to us. There is a similar expression in the second verse which highlights the love of God for us. There is the reminder of the promise to never let us go and that God is faithful to honour His promises.

"Dead Things To Life" is the central song on this album. It's talking about the brokenness of the situation and reminding himself that God will bring the things that seem dead back to life. Despite this promise assurance is sought that tomorrow will come, that there will be life and breath. This track is quite slow and deliberate. It feels like those times when your mind is racing with situation and you lie awake, but you deliberately slow your breathing and try and wrestle your thoughts back under control. Again it is Tom's brilliant vocal breathing life into this song that infuses the spirit as you listen to this track. 

"In The Ordinary" takes a look at those times when life is just life. We're not in the depths of despair valley, but we are not soaring on a mountaintop experience either. We are just in normality, ordinariness of each day, yet we want to seek God, we want to climb the hill and hear something new. The song is a reminder that in those moments of ordinary God is there in exactly the same way, He's with us in each moment, not just the highs and lows. Tom rounds out the album with a revisit of the opening track. This time there is no instrumentation just a vocal with a digital effect placed on it, somehow this simplicity adds to the impact of the song.

This is an interesting exploration of the idea of the lament. It's not as depressing as the title suggests, in fact there is some praise and worship and a reminder of who we are and how loved we are. Although the backing sounds fairly simple, there are some electronic touches and instrumental flourishes that lift this whole release. It has to be said though that the lyrical honesty and the vocal vulnerability really make this album work. I think there are a lot of artists that wouldn't be able to really pull this off and make it as easy to listen to as Tom. The vulnerability transfers to your heart and your soul as you investigate feelings of the places where you may be in your life right now, and places where you may have been.

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