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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Chair and Microphone, Vol. 1

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Mar
Chair and Microphone, Vol. 1
Sounds like … solo acoustic worship that recalls early '70s Jesus Movement folk and the music of Shane & ShaneAt a glance … the rawness and honesty of this new sub-series is slightly undermined by its simplicityTrack ListingPiecesMemphisSweet ForgetAnswer MeCrown HimWedding DaysRescued Me DeepHow Precious to MeHurricaneDead ManStill I Cry OutOnly ThreePlease Don't Forget

Having sold pretty well considering the sparse production and independent distribution, the first three recordings in the Enter the Worship Circle series attracted an audience through their raw approach to worship and the collaborative spirit of the artists involved. Chair and Microphone, Vol. 1 is the first in a new sub-series to take the ETWC name in a new direction. The idea is to have a solo artist sing to one accompanying instrument, recorded live in one take.

Ben Pasley (100 Portraits), the creative force behind the ETWC series, is naturally the first to take the solo chair. A gifted musician and worship leader, he does a fine job on the acoustic guitar, and there's a certain rawness and weariness to his voice that is appealing in a Mac Powell kind of way. Unfortunately, he has stripped away some of the appeal of the series in the process. The ETWC title implies a sense of community, and it's been a joy to hear the spontaneous collision of creativity and worship among artists on the previous albums. Chair and Microphone is like unplugging an unplugged album, if that's possible, and its simplicity fails to demand your attention. It doesn't distinguish itself musically from a coffee shop artist or the folk worship of the early '70s.

Do give Pasley some credit for trying something different, however. This is not merely a collection of stripped-down worship songs—they're too personal and not catchy enough to be used in a group setting. Instead, it's a 13-song open conversation with God. Raw and intimate like the Psalms, he offers an outpouring of compliments, complaints, confessionals, and commendations to the Lord that are especially useful for quiet time and personal worship. Chair and Microphone, Vol. 1 isn't exactly entertaining, but it's bound to be rewarding to the right listener.