If you close your eyes and think of the apocalypse you might think of dark, swirling black clouds. If you were to close your eyes and choose a soundtrack for that moment you might find it in “White Horse Rider”, an unusual track on what has got to be one of the most intriguing Christian music projects on the go at the moment.
The word ‘project’ suits David Paul & the People because there is something about their debut album that sounds like the first chink in a chain of progress. After all, segments of the music to “Signs of the Times” were recorded four or five years ago, around the time that David Paul’s previous band, Beyond Jericho, was starting to wind down.
Christian music has seen a pretty monumental shift in the last few years spearheaded by the likes of Rend Collective and Gungor; a search for musical and spiritual authenticity that is seeing the moulds of Christian music broken again and again. David Paul & the People fit somewhere in that expanding experimental niche.
There is absolutely nothing predictable about Signs of the Times, from the restrained rock in “Could It Be”, to the captivating indie ballad “Light to my Path”, to the optimistic and slightly ethereal “Dayspring”.
It’s as if the band dipped into their repertoire of favourite rock influences from the last half century and blended them into their own musical creation. Cast your mind back to the melancholic rock of the Seventies or even the Stone Roses and other indie rock outfits of the Nineties. Replace the rough edges with Paul’s tender, throw-away vocal style (think Ash), and the People’s gentle guitar riffs, and you would be close. You would be forgiven for digging out your old vinyl collections and cassettes to put your finger on just who it is they sound like.
The seriousness of the lyrics and the overall tone of the tracks makes this more of an album for contemplative live session lovers. It will undoubtedly have a narrower draw than mainstream Christian music – if CCM is your thing you might not get what David Paul & the People are trying to convey.
There are times when the album sounds like it could do with some fine-tuning, and there is something simple, even novice-like, about the compositions lyrically and musically. In that sense, this is an album that will have no appeal whatsoever to sticklers for musical precision.
But what David Paul & the People lack in refinement, they more than make up for with sheer originality and pluckiness. There is just too much original and interesting music in this collection to dismiss. There is also something pleasant about the unshowy and unpretentious delivery of their music. They may be artistic, but their egos are in check.
For those whose appetite for mould-breaking Christian music has been whetted by the big names staking out the centre ground in this genre, take a chance with David Paul & the People. There’s a good chance you’ll be hooked.
Our verdict: Definitely a band to watch.