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August 2015

July 2015


A Good Lie

A Good Lie is a wonderful movie but when you watch it at 39,000 feet on a flight to Kampala with a final destination in Arua, in north west Uganda, it becomes a life experience. A Good Lie begins in war torn Sudan at the turn of the Millennium and traces the lives of five children when the bloody violence wipes out their entire village, all but them, leaving them orphans and on the run.

Though the 800 miles that they walk through touches on Ethiopia and end in Kenya, the trauma they faced and have to deal with will be very similar to the people we will meet in the West Nile region of Uganda as we travel with Fields Of Life to a brand new school funded by our Church, Fitzroy, back home in Belfast. 

Thirteen years in a Refugee camp and our orphans, or the four that have survived end up in America and the trauma and healing continue in a cross cultural confusion. There is Crocodile Dundee in New York City humour, in a less slapstick or contrived way, and the interactions with Americans becomes a transformational process for both the Sudanese and their white “hosts”.

The underlying philosophical question is in the title. Lies? What are they? Are they always bad? Are they ever good? Centred around an English class based on Huckleberry Finn we see the bad ones and redemption in the good ones. That, however, was not what caught my attention as I lead a team with nine eager teens on a mission trip to a place they cannot even imagine as they watch other movies around me. 

The first part of the movie was a traumatic viewing. The helicopters! (they roared in literally as our plane took off in Amsterdam, just for effect!) The gun fire! The screaming! The parents dying! A village murdered! Children running for cover and then walking, carrying each other, drinking their own urine to survive! More killing on route!

I couldn’t help but see the callous Amin years of Uganda’s past and the Child Soldiers of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in its more recent history of ruthless and horrific killings. Some of the people we are about to meet, love and be loved by have gone through this. So, by the way, had some of the actors who were former child soldiers; indeed music star Emmanuel Jai was one of them and he also wrote some of the superb soundtrack. 

When you take a mission team to another context you hope for two things. Firstly, You hope that we contribute some transformation, change and hope, as it says on our Fields Of Life t-shirts, to where they are going. Secondly, you pray that in the cross cultural engagement that we are transformed, changed and given hope.

That is what struck me about A Good Lie. Yes, we hope and expect, at the beginning, that some change is going to come for our orphaned Sudanese. When they arrive in America we are relieved at the light relief of some humour in the darkness. We also expect that the white Americans who bring them in will be contributors to the transformation.

That initially is not the case. Indeed, a hard movie critic might point to a weakness in the plot being how cold and functional the American hosts are. However, what that does is give us the opportunity to see how both sides of such an engagement can be mutually redeemed.

Reese Witherspoon’s character Carrie Davis is the one turned around the most. She is a bit of an untidy, tart doing what needs to be done, almost against her will to get by, until these Sudanese boys barge into her apathy and lethargy. She is born again, not in an overt Christian way, though the movie has a lot of Scripture as pivotal points throughout, but made a new woman all the same. 

There are sub plots I will not go into to spoil a movie a highly recommend but in the end we are given a real story from recent history that asks what it means to give up your life for someone else. This is about living in the legacy of who you were in your origins and past to sacrifice that others in our common humanity might have a better future. Perfect reflective fodder for a minister taking a team to Uganda! 

Before I pressed play on the inflight entertainment I flicked through the KLM magazine and was caught by a quotation in bold print, “My favourite journeys are the toughest ones; they etch your soul.” It seemed to me I watched such a tough journey etch the soul of those who walked it. I also felt that this film was a tough watching journey but it is now very much etched in my soul as I head towards a people whose journey is etched in theirs. May we all be changed! 



Dare To Jump

This prayer/poem/reflection was based around a poem I had written for my daughter Caitlin when she was born. It was encouraging her to life life in all its fullness which is now the Fitzroy mantra. Fitzroy youth wear 10:10 on their hoodies... as in John 10: 10 - "I have come that you might have life and life in all its fullness".

As I post this on Soul Surmise today that same daughter is preparing to go on her first mission trip in her own right. As a child she was a veteran of Chaplaincy teams to Cape Town.

So, I post this for the #FYTU15 (Fitzroy Youth Team Uganda 2015).

(BUT it is also for anyone who needs to take the leap of faith, to jump into God's abundant life. Don't stand and think about it. Go for it). 

As #FYTU15 prepares to leave, I encourage us all to Dare.

God, You dared us to think 
You dared us 
To think that we could change the world 
To think that we could make a difference 
To think that we had something to offer 
In your kingdom coming 
And your will being done 
On earth as it is in heaven 
You dared us to think of heaven 
You dared us to think it might come on earth 
You dared us 
To dare. 

Now God you dare us again 
This time it is not to think 
But to act 
To go 
To do it 
To jump 
You are watching us standing on the ledge 
We are safe here but almost frightened of the height 
We are gazing into the deep fresh water of our adventure 
We can so easily get excited at the potential 
The possibilities are endless 
The first tastes of heaven 
The rumours of glory 
The inklings of forever 
The glimpses of what blinds the saints 
Our lives turned upside down 
Swept away from our cosy little securities 
Into a sea full of vulnerable danger 
But total abandonment to you. 

God you are daring us to jump 
To let go 
To dive in 
To feel the exhilaration 
To be thrilled by the fear 
Of what is deep and fresh and new 
To be alive as only we can be on a sea of faith 
In an ocean of trust 
In the waters of the constantly born again 
The old being washed away 
The new making us swimmers in the whirlpools where we’ve never been. 

Lord we are standing on this ledge 
You are daring us to jump 
You are daring us to make the most of this adventure 
And not just paddle at the edges 
Give us dreams and visions of what can happen 
If we swim in the deepest part 
What can happen to those we go to serve 
What can happen to those we go to serve alongside 
What can happen to us 
What can happen to your kingdom coming 
And your will being done on earth as it is in heaven. 
Lord you are daring us 
Give us the courage to jump.



At the end of July, I am heading off to Uganda with a Fitzroy Youth Team. It will good to be back in Africa and back taking young people into life changing situations. It is seven years since my last Capetownship Team to South Africa. 

Those teams to Cape Town between 2000 and 2008 were life changing for me but also for the students I took. With pride and some vocational satisfaction I follow some of those students as they follow transformational careers, the direction of which can be traced back to life changing moments on townships. It is the one part of my Chaplaincy job that I still miss. The part of my time that I know made deep impact.

Uganda will be different. Cape Town, I always say, is like dipping your toes in the shallows of Africa. Uganda is the deep end! Having spent a decade in South Africa I had watched every film, read loads of books and spent so much time there that I was reasonably well versed in the politics, culture and social dynamic. Uganda is new. I know nothing and feel a little ignorant.

Why are we going to Uganda and what are we going to do? Well, it all began one evening in Fitzroy. There was a Fields Of Life event on in the Church and, as one of our congregation Claire Andrews was involved, I thought I would drop down to support it. As I sat enjoying the evening my good friend Alain Emerson shared the story of the school he built in Uganda in memory of his lovely wife Lindsay who left us far too young.

I knew the story. However, the moment that stood out was when Alain said that they built the school for £75,000. A light went on in my head. In Fitzroy we were in the process of planning to renovate and extend our halls. £750,000 was the figure we were thinking about and I immediately thought that if we tithed it we could do something somewhere else. Something as worthwhile as Lindsay’s school.

Session went for it. Indeed Fitzroy had done a similar thing when the restored their tower, before my time. Of course it isn’t a tithe. You have to raise an extra tenth, as a tithe would mean you would be short in your own costs! Anyhow, we invited various groups to pitch a project to us. In the end it was a coincidence not anything planned that we ended up being drawn to a Fields Of Life primary school project in north west Uganda. We handed Fields Of Life a the cheque for £75,000 at the end of 2014.

So, the youth team this summer will go and visit that school. It is scheduled to be completed the day we arrive! Our youth will do kids camps and classes, sports and crafts. We might even paint a mural. For Janice and I the idea is to make connections with the school, the community, the Churches and the town. Our hope is that we will begin to partner with this community. That we will learn from their lives and faith experiences and that we might somehow contribute into theirs. 

We are excited. We are apprehensive. As I said, I am starting again with my culture studies. There will be a few books read in the next week or two about the recent bloody history of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army. Uganda is the most stable country in East Africa but it is surrounded by countries in turmoil. We value your prayers for safety. 

I am excited to be taking young enthusiastic lives into fresh situations. I look forward to sharing with them their responses and seeing how the Sermon On The Mount speaks into their experiences. I always call these teams Bible Study on the Field. Reading Jesus words in a very different setting than middle class Belfast can bring out some truth otherwise missed. I am sure not only our youth but even those of us who have been there and seen it before will be shaped and reshaped by two weeks in Uganda.

If you want to support Fitzroy’s 10:10 Build Fund projects in south Belfast and north west Uganda then click here to donate... you can get a copy of my poetry book at the same time.


Frames Iveagh

(photo:Paul Bowman)

Yesterday, The Frames played a gig to celebrate 25 years of great music. For some unknown reason I wasn't there! I was there 25 years ago. I bought The Dancer on 7" with a ropey home made cover. I saw them in a London club when very few others wanted to bother. I have loved the music, attitude and downright human being likeableness that is Glen Hansard down the years.

In 2003 I got the opportunity, for an article for Paste magazine, to interview Glen by email. The band had just finished work on Burn The Maps and I was in love with For The Birds. I was also interested in the Dublin music scene and where The Frames belonged to that as well as how much Van Morrison had been an influence and his interest in spirituality and Jesus.

This weekend The Frames celebrated 25 years and many of the old players joined in a celebratory gig in Iveagh Gardens in Dublin. A compilation, Longitude has been released too. I revisited this interview and thought it was still a fascinating read. Hope you enjoy...

STOCKI: How does it feel that after 13 years The Frames have finally got some of the recognition that you deserved all along?

GLEN: We feel that were doing what we set out to do. It was never a case for us of getting recognition from media… us, our audience and our peers have always been our concern. The media has never been a particular friend or foe, it’s just never been our goal to be its favourite band. We’ve done what’s been asked of us in regard to press, and no more. I think its a dangerous place to put yourself…at the mercy of something so insecure…it seems to me that popular culture has always been led by those who care least for it, not those who follow it's lead… if it truly matters nothing to you, then you may just end up its darling one day, although if you were truthful you won’t notice it either way.

STOCKI: It seems that since I first saw you in the Subterranean, London in 91 that you have been on the cusp but never dropped over the edge. How have you found the stamina to not say SOD IT and walk away?

GLEN: Because walking away has never been an option. I left school at 14, I’m not qualified to do much else. Which puts me in a strong position…do this well or give up…the latter is not a very promising prospect. I never gave myself that choice. Whether on a stage or on a street…music is what I do.

STOCKI: The Dublin scene is so strong at the moment with Damien Rice, Gemma Hayes, David Kitt etc. This is a new generation but you seem more part of it than you did of the old regime so to speak. Do you feel it is a good time for the Irish scene?

GLEN: Yes I think there is a very healthy atmosphere in Dublin, I think a large part of it is to do with the confidence of the Irish nation rising…people are no longer afraid to like bands that come from there own town. When The Frames started back in 1990 you had to get some nod from foreign press in order for people at home to pay any attention…we were ruled by the English music press…which is purely based on the cult of personality and not the tunes, fashion and rock ‘n roll stories are its agenda. I don’t regard it, and I’ve never bought it. Dublin is thriving because there is so much great music being made here. It seems that every decade, real quality emerges.

STOCKI: For The Birds is a little more laid back and ambient than most of what you do. What as the reason for that? Was it the Kittsers et al influencing the sound?

GLEN: No, it was just time to make a record of what was coming out…the natural stuff. For so long we'd been told by the industry that fast means big, loud means lots, slow means nothing and i was just so sick of that logic. The songs I was writing were slow…so that’s what we did. We were happy to make a record that might show our natural selves even though we might be ignored for's not like we were applauded for our other records anyway… it just didn’t matter as long as we could stand by it and be proud..

STOCKI: What happens next? Is there a temptation to do For The Birds Part 2 to keep the new fan base?

GLEN: Records are just what they turn out to be. There’s no radical game plan…that’s for the world domination bands… I’m just mapping a life with songs. We don’t stand around under lit tables and plan our fan base strategies…forget that…if those who like The Frames like the record then great. I won’t try to con anyone that we’re the horse to watch. How base would that be!?

STOCKI: There must be songs sitting ready. What stage is the follow up at?

GLEN: We’ve just finished the basic tracks in Chicago, were happy with the work we’ve done and we will do some more work on it in the coming weeks and mix it sometime soon after that. If the basic emotion of the songs translate well…then we’ve done our record justice.

STOCKI: What kind of sound can we expect?

It's a collection of songs and so it has no set thread other than we made them. There are elements of our last two records in there and some new elements too. The song in its basic form is often the most pure…then we throw the bells and whistles on and sometimes it looks ridiculous… other times a new beauty emerges.. it’s alchemy it’s fun and at best it's art.

STOCKI: Are there more of those sad love songs about waking up in the ex's garden?

GLEN: Yeah! Lots more..

STOCKI: Are there any themes taking shape?

GLEN: I suppose a sense of well f*** it we’re lost in the middle of this life and each day brings a new possibility for adventure and safety. It’s more about enjoying the chaos now and not moaning about it anymore…what’s the point…the whole thing is so much bigger than us…so lets just enjoy the time we have here.. with its questions and doubts and abstractions and joy. The human condition is the basis. Connection with other humans is what we crave…and sharing the light keeps us alive…very Christian eh?

STOCKI: Thematically where do the ideas come from?

GLEN: From a life of map making and song. Everything’s an influence… everything.

STOCKI: How will losing David Odlum affect the next record?

GLEN: It won’t. He's still my friend…we still make music together. He's following his own north star and it's leading him toward a life of engineering and producing and there's nothing in the world that justifies keeping a person from their dreams. With regard to a noticeable sonic difference? Well I’m sure his presence will be missed…but not his spirit.

STOCKI: The live show is simply astounding. Do you prefer the stage or the studio?

GLEN: The studio and the stage are such different environments. For the longest time I thought that to recreate the live energy on tape was the desired effect...but through tearful endeavour I’ve realised it's a different process…one which we are still learning about…playing live is definitely where we are comfortable…the energy is clear and it flows in one direction…away from the band.. and the energy that returns is then converted and used instantly…it’s a very random animal the live show.

STOCKI: Covers of Tim Buckley and Van Morrison sit side by side with the Pixies in live shows. Would you call the things you listen to eclectic?

GLEN: Yeah growing up as a busker it’s all about songs and not styles.. a good song crosses the street and unlocks the passer by…to achieve a response no matter how small.. these people write great songs and I thank them for many a meal I’ve eaten through singing their tunes. Thanks from all the buskers!

STOCKI: You specifically mention Morrison as an influence to not just yourselves but to David Gray et al. For you is there an Irish kinship there?

GLEN: I think it’s the troubadour thing…the power of a man with a guitar and something to sing about. I don’t think it's particular to Ireland…it's the old way.. the poets take on the world around them.. a solitary voice that sings of a territory that’s unseen…that’s inner and abstract and emotional.. and somehow comments on us all. There’s great medicine in ramblings of a lost soul…no patronising tone to the words. I love Van Morrison because he always seems to be searching.. never found…I don’t know about his personal life but in his music he gives the listener only a question…the answer lies elsewhere…to be attained someday.

STOCKI: There is also a depth of religious imagery to what you and Morrison do. East Belfast and Dublin city have not been great ads for the Jesus of the Protestant and Catholic faiths of those respective places. Yet the message both of you have is a positive spiritual vibe. Why do you think that is?

GLEN: I’m not really sure where that comes from. My earliest memories of singing was being bathed in the sink by my mother with the suitcase record player on the sideboard, playing Leonard Cohen and Simon and Garfunkel records. She taught me the words to Bird on the Wire and the Sound of Silence, and as a very young child I just learned the sounds of the words. I was too young to know what they meant, never mind their deeper meanings. As I grew up those songs got deeper and revealed more to me. We weren’t a church going family, although my mother was and is very catholic. Apart from a 5 year falling out with God in the 90's she has always been a very strong believer. She always said, “we don’t have to go to church to talk to God”… and she viewed the church as a place of gossiping and comparisons. The whole wearing the Sunday best and showing up with the rest of the town for the weekly sermon just wasn’t high on her list of priorities. She stayed at home and cleaned on Sunday mornings with the record player so loud that she could hear it clearly over the Hoover…the rising dust caught in the sunlight were the angels ascended.

STOCKI: At a recent Belfast gig, you mentioned Jesus whipping the money changers out of the temple. Do you read a lot of stuff about him?

GLEN: I find the Bible fairly tough going as a book, but I love the imagery. It’s full of great tragedy and redemption, the fire and brimstone nature of it definitely appeals to me, although I suppose that the whole style of writing at the time was very poetic and decorative so when it says, “Jesus healed the blind, it may mean that he gave the unsee-ers back their faith…therefore restoring the vision…therefore healing the blind… and if you apply this method of thinking to every aspect of the bible and it's miracle stories then it becomes much easier to believe he really was as powerful as the book describes…because these surely were miracles, real miracles. The power and vision of a man to change the minds of people, to change laws to overthrow powers that be…it took the will and strength of a true prophet…and the book of Luke was the place were this became most clear to me. The idea of an angry Christ struck a deep chord in me…because the floating yoda we see so often in imagery never convinced me. I think he must have been a very strong and powerful man to have had such a lasting impact on the Christian world…and the whole world in fact… a great revolutionary and a deeply spiritual leader.

STOCKI: Finally, how do you go about "making your life make sense and make amends?"

GLEN: I suppose I try to remain open to the signs and to the moment I’m in. I really believe in the idea that if we are open, the mystery and the wonder are revealed to us through everything we encounter…the magic is in the moment. Although that line was born out of a sense that I wasn't in control of my own destiny anymore and I and we The Frames needed to get clear of the place we were, and to strike out on our own path and see where it brought us. So the amends we made came partly through making For The Birds and setting up our own record label and being our own bosses. The personal amends never stop…that’s the work of the everyday.



Ben Kyle

“Let the water flow, let the light shine

Let the blood go through me like a river winds

Through the valley, through the meadow

Through my spirit and my soul just like a river goes

Through the mountain, under the moonlight 

Let the blood go through me till I truly see the light

And let there be mercy Lord,

Oh, let there be mercy Lord.


Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, forgive us all the things we've done

Leave the writing on the wall, but don't let it fall, don't let it fall

And let there be mercy, mercy, mercy

Let there be mercy, mercy, mercy.”

-     From Mercy by Ben Kyle

Ben Kyle’s eponymous record was one of my records of 2012. I use this song, Mercy, regularly during Communion services. As we take the bread and wine I hope the congregation are reflecting on this spiritually beautiful song. 

Mercy is such a gently powerful piece of artistic prayer. It washes over your soul, soothing it with a blessing of baptised mercy. We all need this mercy, a mercy that sees God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven, bringing with it healing and truth. That line, “Let the blood go through me till I truly see the light,” is a potent as you receive the bread and wine. 

This morning we were reflecting on Psalm 133 -

"How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!


For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore."

We reflected on sin force being a power that pushes us away from each other and sends even parts of our owns souls sailing out to the periphery. Mercy force unites again, restores and redeems.

As we listened for God’s lead, we were acutely aware that we were in a city where sin force pushes others out and away.

Ben’s line later in the song drenched our thoughts - Let there be mercy for my words and wars, deeds and deeds I didn't do/Let there be mercy for every soul in this city may the Lord have pity over you.” 

Mercy for Belfast. Sing it for us, Belfast boy. And may the song, the Psalm and the communion send us out restored within to be restorers without. 

Ben Kyle plays Fitzroy on August 28th... click here for info...

END OF AUGUST IN FITZROY - Ben Kyle in Concert/ Van Morrison Day

Fitzroy Avenue

AUGUST 28th @ 8pm (£10 on door) in Fitzroy


Brought up in Belfast before moving to Minneapolis in his early teens Ben Kyle is a wonderful songwriter. He records as part of the band Romantica but his last record was under Ben Kyle. He has worked with Ryan Adams and peppers his songs with Belfast buses, stories and streets. Poetically literate, musically melodic and spiritually gentle but profound! If you like Ryan Adams or Jason Isbell then this is a wonderful TREAT!


AUGUST 30th @ 11am



With Van Morrison’s big gig on Cyprus Avenue on his 70th birthday on August 31st Fitzroy (mentioned in Madame George) will use hymns Morrison has recorded and spiritual songs he has written to build their Sunday morning worship around. Scott Jamison from Go Wolf, Chris Wilson, Dave Thompson and Caroline Orr cover Van as we build prayers  and spiritual reflection around his songs! 




Summer Reads 15

I say it a lot but it was fine wisdom and I have used it for 5 years. My former colleague in Fitzroy Rev Whitney Wilkinson looked me sternly in the eye as my first holiday in Fitzroy was about to begin and said, “No theology! Your head needs a rest from thinking about work.” I left a Calvin biography back in the shelf which actually I have still never read and picked up a Colin Bateman novel which ironically was set 100 yards from Fitzroy. Near work… but not work! It has been my mantra ever since.

So, I am setting aside John Paul Lederach’s The Moral Imagination which I so want to read, Tim Keller’s Ministries Of Mercy and Generous Justice, as well as John F Kilner’s Dignity and Destiny sent to me by the kind Neil Craigan. Hopefully I might get around to these come autumn time.

In the meantime I am taking with me the following:


I read The Spinning Heart last summer. The new kid on the Irish novelist block, Ryan is a great social analyser of modern Ireland. Also not a tome that will take half the holiday!


I have always loved Hornby. He is perceptive, insightful and always funny. Again a lighter read of heavier themes!


Perhaps a little more work to get into but Robinson’s spiritual wisdom dropped into character driven novels are always full of depth charges. To read the female perspective on Gilead will be fascinating!


Local youth guru Waugh’s debut novel. I have started this one and it is an easy intriguing read that I look forward to getting further into.


Off to Uganda at the end of July. After 10 years in Cape Town I knew the place inside out and upside down. Uganda is all new so this is a novel to scene set. 


Again about Uganda, this might be the one I read while travelling there and being there. A more historical piece about the bloody violence of the 70s and how a country is trying to forgive or forget or deal with disappeared family members  etc. Not light. Maybe close to work BUT then the Uganda trip is work.


I haven’t read enough Tóibín and this one set 1960s Ireland looks like my kinda book.


I love David Park and when I got this in a charity shop I knew it would do nicely! Set in Belfast again. I love novels set in places where I live or travel to.

What I don’t need to do now is to make it a job to read them all. I need to rest and see how the reading goes. Last year I stressed myself out worrying I wouldn't get all my reading finished. Chill Steve! The Rice book looks the heaviest and that might take me the entire Uganda trip. You will see how I get on and what ones got read and didn’t when I review them all in late August!



Canada Day Playlist

I love Canada and Canadian music... Here is my favourite artists doing great songs to celebrate Canada Day!

Joni Mitchell - A Case Of You from Blue

Daniel Lanois - Shine from Shine

Neil Young - Powderfinger from Rust Never Sleeps

Arcade Fire - (Anarchist Television Blues) from Neon Bible

Blue Rodeo - New Morning Sun from In Our Nature

Bruce Cockburn - Wondering Where The Lions Are from Dancing In The Dragon’s Jaw

Eric Angus Whyte - Lost In This Song from Always Home

KD Lang - Hallelujah from Hymns Of The 49th Parallel 

Chantal Kreviazuk - God Made Me from Under These Rocks and Stones

Barenaked Ladies - Be My Yoko Ono from Gordon

The Big Sea - End Of The World from Play

Spirit Of The West - Take It to The Source from Labour Day

The Band - Acadian Driftwood from Northern Lights, Southern Cross

Carolyn Arends - There You Are

Steve Bell - Lord Of The Starfields from My Dinner Bruce

Mary Margaret O’Hara - You Will Be Loved Again from Miss America

Blackie & The Rodeo Kings - Lord, Give Me Shelter from Kings and Queens

Cowboy Junkies - Sun Comes Up It’s Tuesday Morning from The Caution Horses 

Holy Cole - The Briar and The Rose from Temptation

Leonard Cohen - Dance Me To The End Of Love from Live in London

Melissa Hill - Sunshine from Melissa Hill Live

Robert Robertson - Somewhere Down The Crazy River from Robbie Robertson

Ron Sexsmith - Late Bloomer from Long Player Late Bloomer

Sarah McLachlan - Hold On from The Freedom Sessions

Colin Linden - Sad and Beautiful World from Sad and Beautiful Place

Stephen Fearing - The Longest Road from Assassin’s Apprentice

Diana Krall - Prairie Lullaby from Glad Rag Doll




Top 10


I remember my mate and I saying after the umpteenth brilliant 12” by The Bible that they never release a bad track. Their b-sides were always superb. So, twenty five years later Boo Hewerdine releases an album of songs he lost and found again, discarded and yet a quality collection of Hewerdine songwriting magic. 


A return to songwriting form for Rickie Lee. I love that quirky voice and when she writes meandering yet literary songs like these I get excited!


Belfast’s finest co-writes with very talented mates and as usual crafts originality and introspection to keep all our souls’ attention.


Objectively this is the best album of the year. Melancholic and cathartic in looking back at a fraught relationship with his alcoholic mother it brings Steven’s usual reflections on universal truth. Genius!


I love this man’s pastoral songs, full of work written literally as he brushed floors. Wide souled and calming in a world in turmoil. 


Change of outfits and instruments but still full of passion and soul. A more than acceptable reinvention. 


Mike Scott’s spiritual exploration of the Long Strange Golden Road goes on in the most rocking of forms. The words are clever and deftly rhymed.


I discovered Knopfler again thirty years after I had left him alone. Quality songs more than tastefully done.


Just the most sumptuous songwriting. Music to the ears, content for the soul.


Right at the last moment ex Civil War girl Williams becomes a woman. She reveals the strength of womankind in the story of one particular woman. Musically imaginative and emotionally tender.

and also worth a mention in no particular order: -