Music Review: Pilgrim by Marcus Young

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Updated January 21, 2019
Music Review: Pilgrim by Marcus Young
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£7.89 (amazon)

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Pilgrim is a conceptual album that takes you on a journey as Marcus looks for true liberty and deliverance from his burdened soul. The concept is greatly inspired by the famous 17th Century allegory 'The Pilgrims Progress' written by John Bunyan. Marcus captures the fundamental storyline of the book and fuses that with his emotions and character, his experience of life, and his trials and successes as a Christian. The album has a soulful, rhythmic and experimental sound, including the aStepFWD UK Christian chart #3 song 'At The Cross'.

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Pilgrim by Marcus Young
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I have to admit it has been a while since I have read John Bunyan's classic "A Pilgrim's Progress". I wonder how many of the youth in our churches would even pick up this book to see what help it can provide in their journey even though it is freely available to download on the internet. That is why it is quite a pleasant surprise that Marcus Young has chosen to use this as the inspiration for songs on his first full-length album.

Reading a little about Marcus before writing this review I found that Marcus is a young man who pursues things passionately. Growing up in a home surrounded by many philosophies of life from his parents, he practised Chinese Martial arts. Like many boys, he also believed that he was destined to be the next big thing in football. Unfortunately for Marcus this wasn't to be, despite trying to use Tai Chi and Chinese meditation to enhance his playing ability! After someone spoke into his life that the philosophy behind this was wrong Marcus started to feel an internal torment which even changed his personality. After some weeks of suffering he turned to a friend who he knew was an evangelist who invited him to church, from that point he felt finally free from the torment and decided to commit to understanding more about the God of the Bible. Having previously put together a couple of mix-tapes and expressing himself through those he started making music to express his thoughts and understanding of God. This resulted in a life changed and a couple of early musical projects. In 2017 he released his first single, "At The Cross" went to number 3 in the AStepFWD UK Charts for March, and the full album, "Pilgrim" arrived in December.

With the blend of a young creative talent and this pretty old text I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. Straight off from the beginning it's very relaxed as "City Of Destruction" see's the artist knowing that there is something about Jesus, knowing the need to change, with this knowledge he cannot look back and doesn't want to go back. There are Jazz influences here with the subtle piano and quite a light vocal. These influences stay throughout even with the rap and spoken word tracks. "At The Cross" brings this album to a place of worship as Marcus brings simple spoken word and Elspeth compliments this with a sung chorus of the freedom of the cross.

The excellent Chris Da Ambassada adds to the next track "Love and Truth", other collaborations on this album includes working with King Jims and Duane Caleb, as well as another track that features Elspeth Young. Most of this album is so incredibly laid back allowing the lyrics to hit home as he moves through this journey. There are some great moments that just leave you chilled out, such as "A Conversation With Faithful" as the chorus reminds us of the freedom that we have. The one track that isn't quite as laid back is "Fighting Apollyon" which starts off in the same gentle tones, but as the track builds the fight comes through in the lyrics and the sharpness the bars are delivered. At the end we are reminded that we should not fear because God is with us!

From here on the tracks continue through the concept which allows Marcus to confront some different aspects of modern life that may have changed a little since Bunyan wrote the book. Although the basis is no different, vanity and the superficial may seem to be all around us today, but it was still an issue in the book, our hearts haven't changed as much as we might like to think, the choice still has to be made as outlined in "Vanity Fair". "Martyr" is about whether we will live for Christ, no matter what the eventual cost might be. These might be challenging words to those not familiar with the idea that faith comes with a cost.

As we move to the final stages a Pilgrim reaches "Heaven" and the "Celestial City" we find more of a worship tone coming back through. In "Heaven" it is a consideration of the refrain from the throne room as described in the book of Revelation. There is a great spoken word backed by an ambient vocal as we consider the phrase "worthy is the lamb".

This is an interesting concept album, it isn't at all what I was expecting. It is a laid-back journey full of very personal reflections about what faith means to Marcus as he is, as we all are, on this journey. I was expecting something a little more aggressive given the rap/grime influences, but this is incredibly laid back most of the time. If you are looking for something very different to expand your understanding of the Christian life, the strengthening of the Christian and the journey, or even just want some fairly laid back music with a point, then "Pilgrim" is definitely for you. I promise that it will be completely different to what you might have expected but at the same time an incredibly creative journey!

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