Release the Sound
There’s a certain sound that a friend of mine likes to call the “Hope 103.2 sound”.
When I asked him to describe it, he told me that it was “contemporary but not mainstream, very clean cut and wholesome, inspirational, and very Christian”.
Such is Roma Waterman’s Release the Sound.
In Release the Sound, Waterman moves away from the strongly acoustic sound favoured by Christian contemporary music luminaries such as Brooke Fraser and Casting Crowns, and follows in the footsteps of other artists such as Rebecca St James, in search of a “new sound”.
The result is an album that can best be described as being acoustic with synth pop leanings. While this combination of styles can often fall into the realms of being corny (80s music is a brilliant testament to that), Waterman skilfully balances light and shade, joyfulness and repentance in the songs of exuberant praise (“Till My Bones Sing”) and soulful meditation (“His Name is Jesus”) that fill Release the Sound.
The upbeat drumming, rhythmic guitar riffs and catchy chorus hooks make sure that the music immediately grabs you from the first track (“Release the Sound” has been in my head for four days and counting) and doesn’t let go until the last (“With the Angels of Heaven”).
Her vocals, wispy and delicate at first listen, have an underlying strength and conviction not initially evident, giving her songs a richer, emotional depth.
As an observation from a song writing perspective, most of her lyrics are fairly straightforward in imagery, nature and structure, and rely strongly on repetition. However, it is this relational simplicity (she calls God “my daddy King” in “Footsteps of My Father”, for example) and unguarded emotional honesty with which she writes that makes Release the Sound so moving, worshipful and relevant.
Her duet with Dave Fitzgerald, “Hallelujah He’s Alive”, in particular, stood out for me as a beautiful song proclaiming the hope we can look forward to as Christians; and the spiritual honesty of “Like A Flame” will encourage and resonate with anyone who has gone through, or is going through, difficult times.
While Release the Sound is not the most technically or lyrically masterful release in the Christian contemporary music genre of late, its undeniable spiritual earnestness and openness makes it a staple for individual and corporate worship, and a catchy and enjoyable listen that you’ll be hearing a lot of — on Hope 103.2 and in your head.