by Marty Willson-Piper


Follow-up solo effort from this solid Church-man is a fresh, tuneful assortment, whose creativity and pop craft are ideal for alternative and college outlets. Highlights of an outstanding set include the snappy hooks of "Melancholy Girl" and "Cascade," the acoustic rhapsodies of "Questions Without Answers" and "Say," and the gentle, serene "How Can I Help It."

"It's only perfect things we're seeking," Marty sings, and Rhyme captures more than its share of perfect moments. As the title suggests, this album is about gentle games with words, but it's also about rhyming guitars, poetic arrangements and Marty's unique and maturing perspectives of life.

If you were intrigued by his past songs ("Volumes" has always been one of my favourite Church tracks, and "Russian Autumn Heart" on the latest album is also a delight), Rhyme shows Marty has far more inside him than many would have expected. Any poet will tell you that the hardest things to write are the simple, almost naive images that somehow catch life's most sublime moments and truths, and Marty creates such lines again and again, in between more elaborate and sparkling word plays.

The songs are melodic and less laden with atmosphere than the usual Church fare, arrangements showcasing the song rather than wrapping you in mood, letting the words work for themselves. Marty's voice stands up well - not as seductive (or monotonous) as Steve's, his style is more straight rock with a touch of folk on the more delicate songs.

"Time Is Imaginary" is excellent, an autobiographical hint that begins with a dream narration and builds into a perfect drama.

The first single, "Questions Without Answers," takes a political look at our lives, and ties in with Marty's plea on the album cover for everyone to join Amnesty International. His always superb guitar work is complemented by a small group of Swedish musicians, and is a joy to listen to. Rhyme is a delightful surprise, and a truly accomplished album.

Susan Ryan