Chris James – ‘One Song One Life’ album review
Chris James – ‘One Song One Life’ album review
From the opening chords of the first track One Song, there is an instant call to feel the fullness of all that we are, and with it, a strong sense of the grandness this album offers.
The lyrics announce ‘Well, it’s the one song singing in us all… it’s the rhythm in us all and we know it to our core’, a declaration of the oneness that unites us and our connection to it – no room for any doubt. In Chris James’ resonant voice we hear total dedication to the words he expresses, ‘There is a harmony that expresses everything, there is an expression of love that we can feel in everything and there’s a universe of space that sings in every cell… endlessly it’s bringing us all home’.
After this magnificent opening call, song two The All invites us to go deeper. With its Persian-sounding flute that opens the heart and reminds us of that ancient desert culture, Chris opens delicately, singing about the desert sands ‘changing constantly… in the desert if you look away when you look back once again, everything is changed, the dunes are always moving’. He likens our bodies to these changing sands and reminds us that ‘when we open to the flow, timelessness… there is no separation’. The unwavering dedication of Chris’ delivery again carries and expands the listener’s own body as he sings the stunning invitation ‘so look within and feel the space, that desert so deep within, every particle of sand is a world that’s lived in’, a line that reveals the depth upon depth of the Universe. As the song builds, the steady piano, hand drums and flute support this openness to keep expanding as Chris’ voice, rich with power, crescendos with the absolutely joy-full line ‘God is there within… we open up the door and God’s within, in us All, in the All’.
With this expansion in the body, track three We Are Held opens with simple, steady piano and saxophone as the lyrics humbly ask; ‘what words can I use to sing of the love when I’m held by you like the stars above?’ and go on to express the Universe within us. The confirmation in the beyond beautiful chorus ‘We are beholding love, we are truly love… we are held by it all’ is spectacular. Deeply confirming the all-encompassing love we come from and that God holds us in with ‘everything else we can let go of now and embrace with all we are and sing of it now’, I defy anyone not to burst into song with heart-expanding joy and knowing of the truth that Chris makes so clear and simple.
Track four, Love is a Beholding Light, brings a simplicity and settlement in the repeating lyrics, and the clarity of Chris’ voice, in its delicacy and power, offers multiple layers of understanding about Love.
With the foundation of these four tracks, songs five, six and seven continue to invite us to ‘open our eyes’ to who we truly are. This music does not confine itself within the bounds of a single genre; Who We Truly Are, Truly Love and There’s a Gift all bring a playfulness and lightness into the jazz-pop style they are written in, along with a great appreciation for the versatility of Chris’ voice that ranges from sweet and delicate to raw and powerful, yet always imparts the absoluteness of the lyrics he sings. In Who We Truly Are, the epic build to the chorus with angelic-sounding backing choir voices brings a multi-dimensional quality to the jazzy flavor as it asks ‘why wait for a calamity when there’s something here that will set you free... in the heart of every man…’
Throughout the album, the immense clarity in Chris’ voice stirs and resonates, as if awakening the body of the listener. It is undeniable from the commitment with which he sings that he knows with every cell of his body what he sings about.
This brings an authority to the listening experience that means – if we are open to it – we can feel it not just in the whole physical body but in the continual expansion of our being. ‘Here’s a gift for you, so clear and so true… it’s a doorway to universality ensuring love will pave the way… so take this wheel, take it everywhere you go… it’s the light that we’ve all been waiting for’ (There’s a Gift).
The offering of awareness about the true living reality of Love, Space, the Universe, God, and us within it all in the previous songs brings us to track eight which opens with a more reflective tone. Combining a classical style with the ancient feel of the Persian flute, Chris sings ‘We belong to God, we belong to Glory’ and we are again opened to another level of understanding. As in track three, where he sang ‘being held in the arms of a beholding God, is to know who we are and that we are pure love’, once again, with Chris’ full-hearted resonance, any corrupted ideas of God or Glory are swept away. The lyrics move into Latin and the song blasts through the annals of religious music past, which portrays us as sinners under the cosh of a judgmental God. Instead Chris sings of connection, togetherness and ‘we are truly love… we can be that love… that joy abounding’, and with this joy-full understanding why would we ever want to deny that ‘we belong to God, every cell’.
The final song It is Life, it is Fohat immediately brings a spaciousness with the instrumentation that continues to open up as the song progresses. Chris sings about Fohat in ‘the day and the night… the you and the me… being all that we are… the knowing of love into the core’. Such beautiful, multi-dimensional words that are also very down-to-earth – hearing them we cannot deny that living the Divine, in all its fathomless depth, is incredibly simple. Ultimately, ‘it is everything we let ourselves be truly once again, as we know who we are, with a connection so deep to the stars’.
It is rare for an album to so freely and resonantly express the truth of our oneness, connection, love and divinity. To listen and allow the vibration of Chris James’ voice, lyrics and music openly with our heart and body, one can’t help but be deeply touched, inspired and embraced by his all-encompassing love of God, and know too that we are ‘truly love… we are the light and the space… we are held by it all.’