Steven Armstrong is a pianist from Australia who asked me for a review of his album, “Hymnal [Revised Edition]”. It is an album consisting of old hymnals, but with a twist: Steven takes out the monotone repetitions and makes the songs sound more modern.
Album was released Sept. 29, 2012.
Now, let’s get onto my review. First off, all the songs are instrumentals only, no lyrics. I think that they’re beautifully done, but I would love to see Steven team up with a vocalist that could compliment his work… I can imagine someone like Michael W. Smith singing it, but he would obviously be a conflict of interest because he does his own piano work. However, these songs really do not need a vocalist because Steven Armstrong expresses his heart through his piano, he really does.
I have no doubt that one day we are going to hear Steven Armstrong’s name more… This album is just amazing, his piano skills are far above a lot of what we hear on the radio. What is even more amazing is that I’m told that this album was made WITHOUT cuts or editing! I have taken a lot of production classes, and to see this kind of work without cuts or editing is simply amazing. I can say without a doubt that Steven Armstrong is anointed by God, I haven’t met anyone with this kind of talent before. I can honestly say that I am not trying to sell his album for him, because I don’t know the man. He came to me through e-mail to take me up on the “Free Christian Music Review.” I am honored that I get to review such a beautiful piece of art. This is art, this isn’t what you hear on the radio (watered down made for money music.) This music is created from the heart with the intent of glorifying God, I don’t think Steven Armstrong had money in mind when making this album.
I am writing this review, as I listen to the tracks, each track is flowing beautifully into the next. This is a true album… A lot of people don’t know this, but in today’s music very few albums are what we call “real albums.” Since music can be bought online as single tracks, most artists make each song a kind of “single” a hit sounding song where each song on the album doesn’t really go with the next. They do this because they know most people don’t buy the whole album anymore, they just buy one or two songs from an album. So, if you like true albums that tell a story and have a theme that it sticks to and flows beautifully into the next track, get this one! If you know the words to these hymnals then you can even sing along with them, add your own words to praise God if you want to. I honestly want to see someone use these as musical tracks and sing to them, put it on YouTube or something if Mr. Armstrong will allow… but that’s between you and him.
Each track isn’t too long either, which I love because I get tired of listening to the same instrumental for 10 minutes. “All Creatures of Our God and King” is 47 seconds. Each track ranges from about 1 to 4 minutes. I am just amazed by this guy’s talent, I thought I would get a bunch of review requests from people who barely know how to play. That’s not the case here, you have to hear this album!
The only thing I wish Steven would have added to this is “Amazing Grace.” That is my favorite gospel song, but not because of the instrumental, because of the words… The instrumental is slow and depressing to be honest. I think Steven could have taken it to a new level, a place its never gone before… a happy place! So, Steven get on that for me LOL!
Steven Armstrong ends his album as strong as he begins it with “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” This is definitely also one of my all-time favorites and I love Steven’s interpretation! Every track on this album is strong, as strong as Steven’s Arm(strong).
I give this album 5 out of 5! (Coming from someone who never listens to instrumentals).
1. Guide Me O, Thy Great Jehova
2. Softly and Tenderly
3. I Surrender All
4. Great Is Thy Faithfulness
5. All Creatures of Our God and King
6. He Leadeth Me
7. Blessed Assurance
8. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
9. What a Friend We Have In Jesus