Release Date: October 5th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Fix My Eyes
- Wholly Yours
- You Are My Peace
- New Song
- Stand in Awe
- All Hail King Jesus
Similar in vocal style of Kathryn Scott and Philippa Hanna, British singer/songwriter Lou Fellingham has wowed us time and time again with her pop/rock/worship band Phatfish for nearly 20 years, and she has also recorded heartfelt and stirring solo albums as well. Having toured with many high profiles singers and songwriters, ranging from Matt Redman and Tim Hughes, to Graham Kendrick, Stuart Townend, and Aaron Keyes, and also attending many major British festivals for many, many years; now, Lou’s new solo album called Fascinate releases this coming week. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of listening much to her music (which includes myself), this album is the perfect place to start, as we are immersed in a musical pop culture as well as edifying lyrics about our Lord Jesus Christ. Proving to us that long after Phatfish is over, Lou still has a voice and something to say; this album is for those who love British music, worship music, and/or both!
Opening the album with the piano pop tune “Fix My Eyes”, one of my favourite tracks on the album (no not for King and Country’s version, although that would have been cool!); the nostalgic and sentimental piano riffs kick into gear, and Lou’s pristine vocals immediately grab me and captivate me. As I am immersed in this catchy mid tempo melody, Lou reminds us that ‘…in You there’s freedom, in You there’s life, in You there’s mercy, in You there’s hope, in You forgiveness for every sin; in You there’s everything I was looking for…’; and we realise that Jesus is our everything, the One we can rely on, which is why we can fix our eyes on Him and be assured of our salvation and security. What an emphatic opener sun with confidence and passion for us to be excited for the rest of the album!
The album overall has an electronic remix-y effect and that musical tone, reminding me of 80’s and 90’s pop tunes, and Lou’s album is such a joy to listen to for that reason. It brings me back to my childhood musically, and it’s great that these songs breathe life and give us meaning and purpose as well! “Awaken Me” is driven by strong synth and captivating electronic beats, and Lou’s singing is haunting and moving on top of that different musical aspect. As the words are sung that Jesus awakens us with his creation and everything He is, metaphors and other forms of imagery describing God are used, and these told only enhance the timeless message of soaking in the presence of God. While the piano pop biblically sound gospel orientated melody “Wholly Yours” highlights the fact that we are God’s because of the sacrifice He made on the cross, Lou’s fervent vocals and heart for Jesus shining through here, and making this track quite epic and majestic even though it isn’t lyrically like it’s predecessor. However Lou’s infectious and contagious joy and love for God makes both the ‘dryer’ songs and the more free flowing descriptive songs equally inspiring and both necessary in our worship to God.
The title track, led with light electric guitar, gentle bells and glockenspiel, is a soft slower tempo ballad, is lyrically similar to Phil Wickham’s “You’re Beautiful”, as Lou speaks out eternal truths about God, that ‘…You fascinate me, You are astounding, You’re never ending, You’re beautiful…’. A humble and reverent prayer that praises God for who He is, and acknowledges that He is Lord over all, this song is pure, uninhibited worship at its most raw, personal and emotional. The song also takes a more anthemic turn with the rousing bridge and vibrant crescendo that has me on the edge of my seat with ardent praise and wonder for our God and King!
While the piano prominent mid tempo ballad “You Are My Peace” outlines that Jesus is our peace all the time when we need it, as Lou’s stellar vocals and unashamed faith for Jesus create one of the most personal tracks on the album, with Lou singing that her hope and strength are in Jesus; the last song of the first half, called “New Song”, is musically different, as we are taken down memory lane to the 80’s and 90’s where synth was prominent and dance and disco were popular as well. On this melody, Lou infuses a variety of genres- dance, disco, pop, praise- and the end result is an eclectic song about God rescuing us from our old ways and giving us a new song to sing. A testimony of sorts, I haven’t really seen much dance/disco/slightly EDM songs as worship songs…I guess there’s always a first time for everything! And what I have heard is nothing short of remarkable- Lou has pulled off this song quite brilliantly and skillfully!
The 2nd half of the album starts with the synth heavy and keys based praise song “Hallelujah”, and kicks right into gear as the tempo of the song sounds like it could fit right home musically in a modern day dance club, with music present on the album similar to Capital Kings and David Thulin. Lyrically speaking, this track speaks about lifting up our voice to Jesus and joining the song of Heaven and worshipping Him, and once again Lou is at her brilliant best vocally as we hear her cry out the simple words of ‘…blessing, honour, be to God forever, glory in His holy name…’, which brings a smile to my face as I emphatically proclaim the same sentiment as well! The mysterious and ethereal and also remix-y “Trinity”, led by programming effects, keys and explosive vocals, is reminiscent of a Nicene Creed like track similar thematically to Newsboys’ “We Believe” or Third Day’s “Creed”, where Lou’s spin on a timeless theme is spot on, as she fervently outlines that ‘…this is our God, there is no one higher, this is our God, full of light and wonder…’. “Roar” follows, and is a cleverly orchestrated piano piece with Lou comparing God to a mighty lion, that is one of the most lyrically sound and most creative songs on the album. As Lou time and time again reminds us why she is one of Britain’s most popular and respective artists; the last few songs take Lou’s songwriting and her love for Jesus to another level!
Originally thinking that “Stand In Awe” was Lou’s version of Matt Redman’s classic song “Let Me Words Be Few”, this orchestral anthemic like worship piece is an original song, where Lou passionately cries out that she is in awe of Jesus, while also listing all of the incomprehensible and wonderful things God does for us. With the song reassuring us that our lives are safe in the palm of God’s hands, this song should be our response to everything in our lives- to stand in awe kin the presence of our Father like what Mary did, even when Martha was working. While the penultimate track “Sacrifice” is a subdued, more contemplative, acoustic type duet with Jake Isaac, led by the piano, where both vocalists bear their soul and their everything to God, bringing their all to worship God wholeheartedly; it is the final song that sums up the heart of the album and what worship Jesus is all about.
“All Hail King Jesus” doesn’t have any verses or choruses per se, yet still packs a great punch lyrically, musically, vocally and thematically. A loose rendition of the hymn “All Hail The Power Of Jesus Name”; Lou lifts Jesus high across the light acoustic guitar, keys, and the inspiring backing vocals giving his song an orchestral and anthemic feel, and reiterates time and time again in the song that Jesus is the One who frees us, and that He deserves to be worthy of our gratitude and praise. As an album closer, this celebratory corporate worship song beautifully captures all that Lou has to offer, and I would strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t heard of her music to start this coming week when Fascinate releases!
A veteran in the British music industry, Lou Fellingham hasn’t really been that famous or popular in the U.S. or outside of Britian. With this releaser on Integrity Music, all will soon change. Fascinate fascinated me on many levels. We moved from a pop setting to a place of pure and unashamedly passionate worship, from upbeat to subdued music; but we still had Lou’s heartfelt lyrics, strong faith for Jesus and her captivating vocals which alone is enough for me to recommend the album to anyone. The surprise package for me, Lou’s album immediately shoots into my top 20 albums of the year! Hopefully it’s on a few more other listeners’ lists as well!
3 songs to listen to: Fascinate, Hallelujah, Sacrifice
RIYL: Kathryn Scott, Philippa Hanna, Delirious?, Beth Croft, Rend Collective