THE HARVEST MINISTERS – A Feeling Mission (1995)

Review by: Dinar Khayrutdinov
Album assigned by: Kyle Wilson

After three listens of this album on bandcamp (and it isn’t available elsewhere) I was asked to pay for it or go to hell, and, since 10 euro is a bit more than I can afford right now (I seriously considered buying it, yes, because it is a pretty good record), here is my review of the album based on my memories of it.

In one word – it is pleasant. In more than one word – it is the kind of folksy chamber pop that Belle and Sebastian (and some other similar bands) are famous for; yet you have to give these Irish guys credit – they did it before B&S, and they were good at it too.

The name of the band and the title of the album are gloriously deceptive – this is not Christian rock by any definition, and the “mission” these fellas are carrying is that of simply putting up a bunch of nice folksy tunes that would make you feel something. Moreover, I don’t see any particular ‘Irishness’ here either – this music has more in common with Hank Williams than stuff like The Dubliners or The Chieftains (it does have a lot in common with Van Morrison though, but that’s another story). But whatever. All thirteen songs on this record are pretty good – they all sound very nice-and-gentle, are pleasantly arranged and generally create an atmosphere of a quirky indie movie (I can totally see Wes Anderson or Jason Reitman using some of these tunes in their weird but touching movies). The arrangements are a very tasteful “middle way” between acoustic folk and lush pop, with strings and electric instruments popping up here and there for embellishment but most of the melody being still played on piano and acoustic guitars or carried by vocals (both Will Merriman and Maeve Roche do a very good job with them, Will being more of an ‘everyman’ protagonist, while Maeve often providing angelic back vocals). Of course, some of the songs appealed to me more than others (a personal favourite is An Inopportune Girl – that is the one song here I would describe as downright heavenly), but really all of them are good.

So if you enjoy mellow chamber pop and traditional musical values like melody and pleasant harmonies, then you might give this album a try. On the down side I could complain about the relative lack of substance, but honestly I just don’t want to. These guys made me feel good by offering me some melodic enjoyment, so God bless them for that. Indeed this music makes one love and forgive everyone around, so it might be a Christian album after all.
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Author: tomymostalas

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