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ONE (2003)
One - Click to view!I first heard of Paul Colman Trio when they opened up for Third Day, and I was immediately drawn to their performance. The fact that they were Australian—that they were "different—captured my attention, and their crowd-friendly style transformed the large audience into an intimate gathering. While participating in hand motions along to the song "Run," I realized I had to purchase a copy of their debut album, New Map of the World.

I felt the same anticipation with their album One, looking forward to songs similar to "Africa" and "The Killing Tree." Because they were named New Artist of the Year at the annual Dove Awards, I knew these three friends must have some exciting new material to showcase to their audience.

One takes the theme of unity Jesus prayed for in John 17 and incorporates it into almost every song. "Pray" urges believers to stop judging and instead pray for unity and reach out to people outside the church: "Pray with me one more time to night / Pray we'll be walking in the light of love / Pray that we're not the ones to judge." "Your Man" is a prayer to God to be His disciple. "I've been a harsh man / I've been a get-things-done man / Now all I want is to be Your man." This song could even reflect Jesus' prayer for His Father's will, not His own, to be accomplished. The title track asks God to "Make us one people, one holy song / Make us one people under the sun, under the sun."

Yet even with the positive messages, I missed the musical diversity found on New Map of the World. Paul Colman Trio uses soft harmonies with catchy guitars and drums, which are beautiful in themselves. But after several songs showcasing the same musical arrangements, I desired change. The song "Solution" conveys the most energy out of all the songs on One, making it the most radio-friendly, yet the rest of the cuts remain musically stagnant. "Who Do You Say" incorporates a techno sound, providing an enjoyable divergence, but then the song falls back into the catchy, simple pop rock feel already heard on the recording.

I also missed the crowd interaction found in the concert setting. I know it's probably impossible to reach out to the listeners through an album as the band does live, but I found myself wishing this was a copy of their live CD (Paul Colman Trio - LIVE USA) rather than their newest studio recording.

One's strength lies in its message of unity: it's a call to the body of Christ to wake up and get to the work of the Great Commission. Yet the call is wrapped in delicate music, making One the perfect soundtrack for church family picnics and youth group retreats to summer camp. Perhaps that's where the irony lies. What if the message for revolution (as proclaimed in "One Generation") is lost in simple melody lines? Listeners can clap along to the beat without taking time to think about the words. But at least Paul Colman Trio has made the effort to awaken the church. The band's prayers for unity are petitions that the entire church should continue to lift to heaven because the entire unity Christ desired has yet to be seen.
- Hollie Stewart
February 2004
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