Indie Hymnal, the most recent musical offering by Sydney artist Greg Attwells, follows trends in the modern Australian Christian music scene in contemporising old hymns for a modern (in this case, indie folk) audience.
In this album comprising ten traditional favourites, such as “Amazing Grace”, “Take My Life And Let It Be” and “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”, Attwells seeks to challenge what he feels is the commercialisation of contemporary worship music by dispensing with expensive production and musical equipment and stripping his music back to a man (Attwells) with his guitar and occasional light percussion, violin, mandolin or harmonica.
Attwells demonstrates himself to be a talented guitarist, carrying most of the songs primarily on acoustic guitar.
The complexity of Attwells’ deceptively simple arrangements, while maintaining a good musical dynamic and keeping the listener interested, serves to further highlight his skills as a musician.
This is especially evident in his treatment of “Holy Holy Holy”, where he artfully balances the upbeat tempo of the original hymn with the reverent nature of the lyrics. His take on “Nothing but the Blood” is also refreshing, while still being reflective.
The album is not without its flaws. His arrangement of “Be Thou My Vision”, while pleasant, falls a little flat. His vocals are genuine and heartfelt but are occasionally not substantial enough to hit the mark.
The result is not particularly ground-breaking. However it still holds together well as an interesting, reflective and enjoyable, if a little safe, collection of contemporary worship hymns; demonstrating that, especially in music, less can sometimes be more.