MARY-KATHRYN One Spirit BILLBOARD MAGAZINE REVIEW 1/13/2001 Mary-Kathryn is a gifted singer/songwriter whose music resonates with warmth and a hope-filled charm. On her latest offering for San Antonio-based Rhythm House Records, producer Roy Salmond dresses her pensive lyrics in a variety of musical styles. The opening cut, 'Let Us Praise,' has a decidedly Middle Eastern flavor. 'Unto The Least Of These' has a polished folkie feel. Throughout the project, Salmond incorporates instruments not commonly heard on contemporary Christian albums, such as sitar, ukulele, glockenspiel, and penny whistle. But the most affecting instrument on the album is Mary-Kathryn's lovely voice. There's a purity and clarity of tone that makes for soothing listening. Among the best cuts are 'Walking On Water,' 'Savior,' 'Light Up The Darkness,' and 'Illuminate Me.' ___ Creativity is expensive currency in an artist's life. Given the highly predictable nature of pop music, rarely does an artist meld together extraordinary bursts of imagination and still stay within the confines of the marketplace. Mary-Kathryn's sophomore outing has created a truly provocative and extravagant musical gift. Combining a fluid lyricism with musical influences as broad and wide as Ireland, India, the Middle East and Africa, One Spirit has woven together a swirling, shimmering soundscape that is highly distinctive and exotic while still being accessible. To say there is truly nothing like it sounds cliched, but in fact, listeners will have to agree that this release will broaden the musical palette of the average Joe. Along with veteran producer Roy Salmond (Arends, Howerton), Mary-Kathryn has drawn together a diverse musical rendering dealing with topics as broad as the struggles in marriage and relationships and as deep as the source and focus of worship. The instrumentation alone draws the listener into an experience that allows for a times of deep contemplation and other moments of exuberant praise. Lush with exotic keyboard flavors and churning with Afro influenced ambient percussion, One Spirit creates a seamless experience of artistic wonder and unpredictable vibrancy. World class studio cats like the Hugh Marsh and Fergus Marsh bring their brotherly magic to the project with violin excurrsions that are stellar while brother Fergus lays down a rhythm section with his bass and Chapman stick that puts their performances into categories set aside for audiophiles. Canadian Steve Bell makes an appearance as well singing a duet with Mary-Kathryn and one quickly discovers his ability to take a melody and make it his own. Numerous Juno awards for Steve (Canadian equivalent to Grammy) cannot be wrong. Mary-Kathryn has aspired to a lofty musical tradition. By attempting to bring together a seemingly unorthodox blend of musical styles and instruments she manages to create a new genre if you will. While unintentioned, the final offering does stand out as a work with groundbreaking status stamped all over it. There is truly only One Spirit.
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