This week’s col­umn on for­got­ten mu­si­cal gems turns up Apoc­ryphal Hymns

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - Donal Di­neen

For what amounts to a col­lec­tion of de­vo­tional mu­sic, it’s as well to sus­pend all dis­be­lief be­fore ded­i­cat­ing some time to dis­cov­er­ing this way­ward gem. Your pa­tience and per­se­ver­ance will reap rich div­i­dends be­cause here is a rare doc­u­ment of true be­liev­ers, all ex­press­ing their belief through joy­ous and deeply soul­ful means. It’s spir­i­tual stuff with added in­domitable street-drenched hu­man spirit and a whole lotta less holy Joe. Which is good.

Strange new de­vi­a­tions from the gospel play­book abound. There’s a sense that any mean­ing­ful search for light must surely be­gin on the darker side of the street. Thus each song is sung from a very dif­fer­ent hymn sheet. Th­ese are vari­a­tions on a fa­mil­iar sa­cred sub­ject, but dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives and en­er­gies un­der­pin the flow.

The dis­tin­guish­ing lines be­tween flesh and spirit are wa­ver­ing from the start. Rev­erend Otis G John­son’s sparse hymn, Walk­ing with Je­sus, opens pro­ceed­ings with a ten­der, slow jam. What’s all this? A strange but in­tox­i­cat­ing alien al­tar call, it seems. I ain’t never walked with a Je­sus like this be­fore but I sure do like it.

The term “apocrypha” comes from the Greek for “hid­den things”. Much of the gospel mu­sic you hear takes the high-singing and hand­clap­ping blus­tery route to dec­o­rat­ing The Word, but there is a dis­tinctly laid-back and non-canon­i­cal feel to this 2012 col­lec­tion. There’s no preach­ing or in­struc­tions on where to find the elu­sive three steps to heaven.

Apoc­ryphal Hymns feels like a very dif­fer­ent kind of climb al­to­gether.

This is the sound of sweet sur­ren­der. By the time we get to the haunt­ing Get In­volved, we are swept off our feet and far away. You won’t be down for long with this record. It’ll lift you up.

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