Not all devotional music has to be dry, dusty and serious, and Ellen Hayes is the proof of that with her latest album, We Owe It All To You, which is as much a celebration of music as it is a celebration of her faith. And right from the off, Walk In The Spirit tells you everything that you need to know, the message is obvious yet it’s weaves of upbeat, old-school soul, gospel euphoria, R&B groove and sheer, utter, unabashed sense of joy are taken to new heights.

There are more spacious and delicate numbers such as the acoustic-gospel vibes of Yes Lord, which, with the space around her voice really showcases Ellen Hayes’s voice, and what a belter  of a voice it is, even when playing the understated card that she does here. Just Like You Lord is a slow, sensual and slightly sultry R&B number which will have you at least shuffling your feet, if not waltzing around the room before your mind has time to get all self-conscious. After all, this is music to be unabashed to, free-spirited to, open to…there is no room for self-consciousness, or indeed self-anything in the listening experience. Just let yourself go and emerge yourself in its sonic goodness. And the deft and dexterous, almost Mediterranean guitar solo is just the icing on the icing on the cake! This is a musical cake with a lot of sonic icing!

A Classical Praise is a lovely interlude, a short piece of more traditional sounds but perhaps the sort of church music instrumental as played by a slightly wayward jazz-head and all the more beguiling for it. And also slightly ‘out there’ is The Story Behind The Song, an unexpected and engaging spoken-word piece, a conversion, a word of advice, an opening of the heart, that gets to the core of both what Ellen and this album are all about. The Holy City is a straight-out, mellow rock ‘n’ soul groover and the album ends with the choral delights of Peace Be Unto You, a blend of angelic, mass vocal ranks and chiming and minimalist piano. The perfect swansong to a brilliant album.

If you are looking to spread the word, this is how you do it. No one, and I mean no one, is going to walk past such infectious music without stopping to soak up its gorgeously, life-affirming sweetness, and once engaged, who knows, they might find plenty more in the music and lyrics that feels right for them. And if not, no harm done, everyone goes away smiling, everyone has had the time of their life. Perfect.

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