Music Review | God's Great Dance Floor by Martin Smith

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Title: God's Great Dance Floor: Step One
Artist: Martin Smith
Composers: Martin Smith feat. Chris Tomlin, Chris Llewellyn, Nick Herbert, Gareth Gilkeson, Jesse Reeves, Jonas Myrin
Genre: Light Rock
Publisher: Absolute Marketing
Publish date: 7 May 2013

Following the break-up of Delirious? in November 2009, Martin Smith has been relatively absent from the Christian worship scene. True; there have been some collaborative projects but here, in his debut solo album, Martin comes back with a vengeance onto the forefront of the christian music scene. Beginning with the up-beat 'Awake My Soul', the album dives in and out of various song styles demonstrating his melodic and poetic prowess. There is certainly something of everything on this album, from the upbeat signature song 'Back to the Start', through to the much more peacefully composed 'Shepherd Boy' and 'Catch Every Tear Drop' taking up the rear of the song list.

The defining moments of this album, however, come more from the well-orchestrated crescendos than any of the individual songs themselves. Few can listen to the development of 'Back to the Start' into the 'God's great dance floor' refrain without wanting to jump up out of their seat and join in the call of the song; a brawling trumpet and a throbbing bass and drum beat awakens the soul to express itself in more than words.

It is, unfortunately, precisely because of these well-orchestrated crescendos that 'God's Great Dance Floor' is something more of a listeners album than an inspiration and model for prospective worship teams in a conventional church. However, Chris Tomlin's recording of 'Back to the Start' demonstrates that the song can be easily adapted to a church service; a feat which is also demonstrated by Martin's second recording of the song available on his 'Movement Four' EP and newly released 'Step 2'.

Compositionally, Martin remains bound to the standard two verse Christian song, with accessory bridges and choruses. While not really much of a criticism, considering the majority of Christian music follows the same format, it is disappointing that we face only a continuation of the repetition of chorus and bridge, that seems to be the staple of most charismatic worship sets. Though effective, it might be nice to have a third verse to move onto after the nth repetition of the chorus.

However, there is much to be said for this album simply for listening's sake. Lyrically the songs are all engaging; 'Safe in Your Arms' is mostly inspired by Psalm 23, though Martin uses its themes to draw in various other phrases and images from throughout the rest of the Psalter, and 'Catch Every Tear Drop' tells of the near-fatal car crash that spurred him on into a lifestyle of worship. The various styles that are present in this album have already been mentioned, but the diversity of instruments used is also something to be noted. Perchance, a harp might have been used to create the resonant string notes during the slow pause three and a half minutes into 'You Carry Me', though perhaps someone will be able to correct me on that. This pause is possibly one of the best moments in the entire album. The piano fades away to just lightly held chords and Martin's voice mournfully sings out, "Be, lifted up" while, in the background birds tweet in the trees and peace, somehow, is assured.

This review is unfortunately a little out of touch with the time, especially given the recent release of Martin's second album, 'God's Great Dance Floor: Step Two'; however for the frugally minded, now would be the perfect time to snap up a copy of his first which is, on my recommendation, an excellent buy, suitable for listening just about anywhere and with enough diversity to pad out either worship or soaking playlists. For those even more frugally minded, Martin's two EPs 'Movement Three' and 'Movement Four' form the backbone of his second album and are well worth purchasing.