The Hymns Collection
2008 / Stone Angel Music
Disc One: 50:56
Disc Two: 53:41
Review by Michael Debbage
The Hymns Collection is a two disc set that represents the celebration of revisiting "Hymns" and "Hymns Volume II" that were originally released in 1996 and 2000 respectively. Along with a few surprises, Cardall’s original recordings are essentially remastered and repackaged with the attempt to improve on what were already well produced recordings.
With the exception of the bonus track at the end of disc one, "Hymn"s remains in the same sequential order as its original recording. Performed on a Fazioli Grand Piano with little or no embellishments, this particular album was recorded around the same time Cardall was creating "The Christmas Box." Though a very mellow affair, the disc opens with the inspiring hymn “Joseph’s First Prayer” that also features the nature sounds of birds softly and sweetly chirping. Skip forward to “O My Father” and the melody is reminiscent of Woody Guthrie‘s “This Land Is Your Land” or perhaps vice versa considering “O My Father” was written back in the late 1800’s. Other highlights are the self penned “The Release”, “A Poor Wayfaring Man Of Grief” that was previously featured on Paul’s debut album "Sign Of Affection" and the Scottish folk song “Praise To The Man”. The disc concludes with the bonus track “Fireside Medley” which includes “Come Thou Fount” that Cardall recently covered on his latest disc "Songs Of Praise."
Disc two represents the revisiting of "Hymns Volume II" and much like disc one follows the same sequence of its original recording along with a medley bonus at the end. This time around Cardall performs on a Yamaha C7 Grand Piano and opens with “Love At Home” which is supplemented by the delicate acoustic guitar of Allen Stewart as well as soft synthesized strings. The latter is revisited on the closing of “Jesus, The Very Thought Of You” as well as “Father In Heaven” but never at the cost of distracting from the soft caressing touch of the piano. The original disc is closed out by the self penned emotive “Journey Within”; however Cardall once again offers a medley bonus track “The Restoration Medley” that clocks in close to eight minutes. It includes “Joseph’s First Prayer”, “Praise To The Man” and the glorious “Sweet Hour Of Prayer” the latter being the only new offering. Nevertheless, it is very interesting how Cardall seamlessly molds one song into another.
For the completists out there, the combination of fine tuning on an already well produced pair of albums along with two bonus medleys leaves you begging the question of whether this is enticing enough to supplement or replace the original albums. As for those who missed the albums in their original form you should be encouraged to find this collection as soon as possible. That said, The Hymns Collection was released in January of 2008 and the album debuted on Billboard’s New Age chart at the twelve spot. Clearly the general public is seeking to quench their thirst for not only good music but also one with a message beyond what we can see, touch and feel. Evidently there is a second life in Paul Cardall’s "Hymns" and "Hymns Volume II" recordings both in this world and the world beyond.
January 1, 2008