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"Dwell", Aaron Keyes - CD Review

By Ed Rotheram on June 21, 2011

Although Delirious? bade their farewells to the worship music industry as a band last year, their influence and legacy is very much alive in the field of production at the moment. Hot on the heels of Tim Hughes’ Love Shine Through album, produced by Martin Smith, comes Aaron KeyesDwell album, produced by Delirious? lead guitarist Stu G. Let’s have a look at this exciting offering from Aaron in more detail. 

Aaron’s call as a worship leader and songwriter would appear to draw heavily on his ability to sing the Word of God. Aaron’s gift, not dissimilar to that of Matt Redman’s, presents worshippers with songs deeply rooted in the heart of the Word, and Aaron communicates this succinctly through many of the tracks on this album.

The opening track “O My Soul” is, in my opinion, the standout track on the album. The message of hope, love, praise and adoration conveyed through the lyrics of this song is overwhelming, truth and beauty shine through every part of it. If this were not enough on it’s own, it is set to a very well structured backdrop of piano, bass, drums and guitar, with well thought out, easy to follow chord progressions and subtle production.

There are two definite strands to the production of this album - the warm, heartfelt style of the opening track is replicated across several of the tracks, but in “I Am Not the Same” we find this style mixed with a rawness...lo-fi drums, synths and fuzz added to the guitar create a more electronic atmosphere and feel, with Aaron’s distinct vocals still being pushed to the fore. The result here is effective - the message is not lost through the music, overcoming a potential pitfall of adopting this style of production. In particular, the chorus proclaims a strong message of salvation and change, with an underlying strength in who the Lord is, and what He has called us to.

The title track, "Dwell", is a stirring song of faith, acceptance, and the Lord’s presence. We are invited into His shelter, into His being, where we can dwell and rest in His presence, knowing that nothing can keep us from His love. Similar to "O My Soul" in feel, this song has a completeness to it - where lyrics and music complement each other serenely.

Aaron’s heart for the Lord and his call to worship Him are reflected strongly across the album, but in "Sinless Savior" we hear a song that takes these attributes to new levels. Almost hymnal in feel (a.k.a. hymnish, as coined by Michael Farren at the All About Worship Retreat), with structured verses opening out into a praise chorus, Aaron really lets himself go in this song, with abandoned praise to His Lord and Savior. If I were to pick a song in which Stu G’s influence was most apparent, I feel this is the one. Delirious? would have been honored to have written and played this song, and this is a true testimony to Aaron’s gifting.

Also worthy of note is the pensive “Every Knee Will Bow Down”. Led by piano, but underpinned by an almost slicing rhythmic effect, this song brings out the more soulful nature of Aaron’s vocal ability. The ethereal nature of the backing is highlighted by an ever-present E-Bow (another Stu G influence perhaps?).

From here, we go to a similar song in feel, “Hope is Dawning”. Here I feel the message of the album is wrapped up concisely - our hope is in the Lord, we are longing for His presence, His power, His majesty, and His glory to reign now and forever more.

-Review by Ed Rotheram

(review copy provided by Kingsway)

Dwell - Aaron Keyes

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