Stand On One Foot, Raise Your Hat

“I understand why the Scholar of Guildford has a pile of books. I think I understand why he’s raising his hat. But why on earth is he standing on one foot?”

“That pose looks strangely familiar. It’s almost as if he’s…doing…the Tightrope!”

Now, replace the pile of books with a tray piled with cake and coffee mugs, and the hat with a pair of fuzzy cardboard bear-ears, and you have some idea of what Peter and I were doing last week. We weren’t literally doing ‘the Tightrope’. Well ok, so we did feel the need, every now and then, to get up and wag a foot about in a manner that was undeniably cool and smooth, almost indistinguishable from Janelle Monae’s original.

(Lee’s expression as he looks at the camera says it all: “What style! What moves!”)

Peter and I signed up to be part of a 24/7 Mission Week in Guildford, which turned out to be a combination of hosting a free cafe and organising various family activities to demonstrate God’s freely given love to the people of Guildford. The cafe seemed to attract those who fell through the cracks of well-educated, affluent, upwardly mobile Guildford society – construction workers, struggling single mums, lonely elderly people. The aim of the week was to have real conversations, to build relationships that would connect people with church community beyond the mission week. On the day of the ‘Teddy Bear’s Picnic’, one of our team had a deep conversation with someone who then explained “it’s because you just look so approachable with that teddy bear face painted on!”

To tell you the truth, I felt like the Guildford Scholar statue most of the week, awkward and anxious. I was in a new place, with new people, doing new things, out of my depth and my comfort zone. The physical exertion of a very intense week left me with no time to work on my upcoming EP. The emotional toll of engaging on a deep level with numbers of new acquaintances every day meant I had no time to think about how I was feeling. The packed schedule of every day meant that when someone asked me to sing something for the “Music, Lyric and Rhyme” night, or to provide background music for the Community Barbeque, I hadn’t much time to hone the songs to studio-quality perfection or spend hours fussing over my hair or clothes in the name of ‘stage presence’.

In fact, it was the very thing I needed. I had prayed, a few weeks ago, “God, I want to step out of myself and never step back in”, and He had answered with characteristic humour. There I was, standing on one foot, the other poised to ‘step out of myself’ – raising my bear-ears, contents of my tray toppling, the words “Ohhhh cra…nberry juice” frozen on my lips – sometimes it’s good to not be in control. It can rid you of vanity and time-wasting inward-looking overanalysis, it can stretch your faith and develop emotional stamina, and if nothing else, it makes for an amusing freeze frame.

Reviews of the Young & Free EP

[Click on the name of the reviewer for their full review]

Positive reviews:

The Universal YellowKeys:
The ‘Young and Free EP’ by Taryn Leia Prescott is just that. The whole sound is young and pretty free, and it is now the sort of sound we are covering now and then. So here we go.

And, just to mention, I chose this EP to start off our lightening things up a bit occasionally because this EP is so excellent for that and is of such a particular quality that even I cannot deny it’s awesomeness despite its inability to bring me to tears, make nations rise up against oppressors, or simply keep someone out of the local pub. Actually, it could keep someone out of a local pub. Unless they’re playing it in the pub… which would attract a lot of customers. This ‘just to mention’ is getting too long and free, so let’s just go straight ahead to the music and the lovely, disgustingly talented Mrs Taryn…

I wasn’t sure what rating to give the EP, since it is too different from most of what is in my library to compare, so I’ve decided to simply judge it for what it is… An excellent 8.0/10 should do just dandy and match up well to the high quality of the EP.

The Upturned Microscope:
…the music and lyrics are different in style to Bride [see that review here], with some humour, a more upbeat flavour and a strange sweetness that’ll make you drop what you’re doing and listen. Along with young love, Taryn also explores some interesting instrumental arrangements and even goes demi-bluesy on track 2, Thought Train. The last track, Meant to be, oozes with childhood sweetness and a heart-aching violin solo.

A small, deep and beautiful sound for the summer.

Free To Be Me:
My incredibly talented friend/sister, Taryn Leia Prescott is on the road to world fame. I’m not kidding, she really is. Just listen to this music and dare to disagree with me! Go on.

Just Being Here
Right after posting the Songs of The Bride review I got a message from the Taryn Leia Prescott Facebook page letting me know about this new album – I figured I would go ahead and do the review quickly, here at lunch.

The music style is really not any different (no reason that it would) and I am still very much enjoying the vocals – like I said in the last review “Strong and Powerful – full of spirit!”

Really good – feel very much the same about both albums!

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Negative Reviews:

(None thus far)

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All reviews are much appreciated, and we’ll keep adding to the list as more are written. (And if you know of any that we’ve missed, then please let us know!)

If you haven’t yet downloaded the EP, it’s freely available here.

Reviews of Songs of the Bride

[Click on the name of the reviewer for their full review]

Positive Reviews:

The Upturned Microscope:
I am very picky when it comes to music, and even pickier when it comes to Christian music. The past few decades have delivered some lamentable samples of Christian musicians who either have never read the Bible or are terribly confused about what market they’re targeting.

But every once in a while, we’re blessed with some real gems. One example that I have really enjoyed recently is Taryn Leia Prescott‘s Songs of the Bride. Heartfelt, genuine and biblically deep, her lyrics draw heavily from the Psalms (there’s also a beautifully rendered hymn), with an unembarrassed honesty about the pain and passion of the Christian life. The music is simple and beautiful, and her voice artful and sweet.

Just Being Here:
A beautiful voice! Strong and Powerful – full of spirit! If you enjoy being ushered towards the presence of God by music then Taryn can help you with that – I said it once, again it will not hurt … Beautiful!

All the songs seem to have the same cohesive sound – really all backed by that voice! Most of them seem to have a heavy classical base, and much like the hymns of old!

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Negative Reviews:

(None thus far)

____________

All reviews are much appreciated, and we’ll keep adding to the list as more are written. (And if you know of any that we’ve missed, then please let us know!)

If you haven’t yet downloaded the album, it’s freely available here.

Busking for the Baby

On Tuesday afternoon, Cambridge was The Hottest Place in all of England – Peter and I had picked the perfect day to walk back from the train station laden with backpacks weighing about fifteen kilos each. Unsurprisingly, when we spotted a cool, shady spot, we sat down (read ‘collapsed’) for a two-minute break that lasted a mere hour. It was a beautiful, lazy afternoon: families were picnicking and playing frisbee, students were lounging about, sunbathing and eating sandwiches. We lay on the grass and strummed my blue guitar, and a little girl out for a walk with her mum stopped to listen.

Jon Foreman’s ‘Your Love is Strong’ is quite possibly my favourite song. As a prayer, it is everything I want to say, and it zeroes in on the one thing about God that I most want to take hold of – His steadfast love. I feel the emotion of each line so deeply it’s almost embarrassing. You can see in the video how very worried I look when I sing the line “why should I worry?” and how relieved I look when I sing “you are strong and you love me/ yes you love me”. By the time I get to the Lord’s Prayer at the end I usually just want to go “yes! yes! YES!” and grab people by the shoulders and shake them, or jump up and down, or just drop to my knees and laugh. Or weep. I controlled these somewhat extreme impulses quite well in the video, I think. The fact that it would have taken a lot of effort to get the guitar off my chest and get up off the grass might have had something to do with it.

Young & Free



Big things can happen while you’re taking an afternoon nap. Peter and I got back from Prescott Family Holiday today, and, reunited with my very own bed, I felt a nap was in order, to celebrate the reunion, you know. I woke up an hour or two later to find that my humble little EP, “Young and Free”, had been uploaded to Bandcamp by my incredible husband, adorned and made complete by the inimitable artwork of our brother Phil Jackson, given a glowing review by our friend Nik Papageorgiou, advertised on Facebook by my lovely sister-in-law, ‘liked’ by family and friends, and even downloaded. All without me lifting a finger, or indeed, an eyelid.

I am constantly surprised and humbled by how much encouragement and help people have generously given me. Freely, freely, I have received, and I am unspeakably grateful.

It’s a privilege to have Phil Jackson’s artwork gracing my virtual album covers. I don’t know how many fledgling indie artists have truly world-class cover art – not many, I imagine. Having wandered happily through Phil’s pictures time and again, I’d have to say number 26 is my favourite. I feel an immediate affinity with the tiny girl in the towering garden, because I sometimes feel very small, too, and it’s not necessarily a bad feeling. If I look at the picture long enough, I feel like I’ve stepped into it, like that really is me, gazing up at a colossal dandelion, soaked in the magic and impossibility of it all. I don’t know if any other picture has so captured my imagination, nor, indeed, am I able to fully express what it is that so intrigues me about it.

In this wrapping paper, then, “Young and Free” is now available for your listening joy.