Recording a debut album in two weeks is tough. Recording it in a pantry in Co. Mayo is even tougher. So for acoustic duo Christian Bookshop, their self-titled ten track album was a risk from the word go. With a stripped down sound, minimal members, and absence of gadgets or gimmicks, this duo are working purely off natural talents and creativity – a brave approach to writing and recording by any band.
Opening track Singin’ Freebird is an accurate testimony to what this band are about – minimal percussion and well thought out harmonies, all accompanied by strumming guitar. Upbeat and easy to listen to, this track provides a good introduction. The proceeding song The Past Tense is a more sultry and dark affair, but maintains the same general pulse and feel, rendering it pleasant, but far from revolutionary.
Penitentiary displays another side of this band with its bluesy feel and more unusual melodic lines, but sticks to the same guitar and vocals formula, which is becoming repetitive at this point. The problem of repetition is obvious by the time the album is approaching the end, when it begins to teeter on the edge of boring. Closing track A Million Stars (These Kids) is a perfect example of this. Standing alone, this is a reasonably catchy, enjoyable song, but when combined with the nine tracks preceding it, it offers little to draw whatever attention has been lost so far back into the album.
Christian Bookshop have a lot to be proud of here, with an album including some very promising tracks. However, the problem remains that these tracks are bogged down in the band’s own comfort zone. Without doubt there is potential, but this band needs to explore other aspects of their sound in order to push beyond their comfort zone, and create something exciting and new.