Singer and artist Andrew Farstar leads with a decidedly eclectic approach to making music with this latest collection of much-loved classics. Beginning with the immediately recognisable and uplifting sound of JoyFul Joyful We Adore Thee, the album Hymns & Inspiration is everything the title promises and more.
Farstar’s smooth vocals are supported and enhanced by an array of musical moments – ranging from the delicacy of pop to the distorted style and confidence of rock, with dashes of gospel and other hints of identity scattered among the outer layers.
As the project continues, while there’s a clear sense of optimism and love to the project, it also consistently underlines a level of faith – a belief in a higher power, a deep connection to that, and this comes complete with a variety of emotions and experiences that many encounter in life. This Road follows the opener and mellows things out in an instant, leading with realness and gratitude, and showcasing Farstar’s abilities as a singer under a much more minimalist and almost acoustic light.
Eclecticism is a big part of what keeps this project engaging, and indeed a big part of Andrew Farstar’s musical reach in general. From the soft and smooth tones of It Is Well With My Soul, through the near-whispered and more intimate sound of Day By Day, to the decidedly unique and powerful ambiance and performance of Prayer (Bunessan), Farstar effortlessly meets the needs of the moment, seeming both genuine and clearly capable of performing in any number of settings.
In terms of the arrangement of each track, subtle build-ups help reinforce rising levels of passion and soul, and these humble touches underline further the depth of the music and the artist’s oneness with it.
During the latter half of the album, varied levels of colour and instrumentation continue to emerge – keeping things interesting, as well as changing the mood just enough so to make the playlist in full hold the listener’s attention. Leaning On The Everlasting Arms leads with a jazz and near-funk-like level of brightness. Then in stark contrast you get the blissfully pure and beautiful a-Capella vocal choir for Joyful / Praise (Interlude).
Farstar’s breathy and intentional voice leads well, particularly throughout the calmness of songs like Abide With Me – rising up with power as the soundscape gathers momentum. Moments such as this continuously remind you of the faith and positivity at the heart of the project. More Like Jesus follows on and exemplifies this all the more-so. Life is not without its difficulties, and that’s where faith comes into play for so many people. Gratitude and understanding can be worked upon, a belief in better and in meaning helps you move towards these things.
A stunning vocal delivery emerges with the church-hall strength and soul of Panis Angelicus, after which the instrumental break of Near My God to Thee makes for a welcomed moment of uplifting musical reflection.
It Is Well (Outro) brings the album to a beautifully calming finish. There’s an inherent sense that things will be OK, to many of these songs, and this short but effective final piece allows you a moment of quiet and hopeful emotion within which to let it all sink in. Andrew Farstar presents a refreshing look at some timeless and heartfelt songs on this project, each delivered with genuine passion and appreciation for the music and the audience who’ll share it.