With little previous exposure to Rend Collective Experiment, I knew the opportunity to review their latest release Campfire – Worship & Community Reimagined would be eye-opening. As a person with no affinity for banjo, acoustic-led music, or even campfire songs for that matter, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.
The album fittingly begins with a short, solo rendition of “Kumbaya” to serve as call-to-worship to those gathered around the fire. It establishes a mood that is both intimate and inviting – one that endures even as the momentum leisurely builds into more playful and rollicking melodies. As Campfire progresses, the listener is treated to one great arrangement after another.
From a production perspective, this release is solid and delivers on many levels – remarkable considering the album was, in fact, recorded live on Ballyholme beach around a campfire. The approach imparts the entire recording with a rough and vibrant energy.
It’s also quite apparent that the band is having fun – the laughter, group interaction, and solo trade-offs really render this album’s appeal. It is definitely a cut above any current “polished” release full of brickwall mastering and auto-tune.
Coupled with excellent production is Rend’s ability to harness their gifts. This band is extremely talented -instrumentally and vocally. I enjoyed listening to the album and even found myself going back to certain tracks repeatedly to listen to the arrangements – some of which I would recommend for congregational use.
This album was a surprise win for me – even with banjo.
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