Lined with a melting pot of modern and classic designs, Boston’s historical district Ashmont Hill has long earned the adulation of admirers due to its architecturally diverse makeup. Interestingly, that very same approach of embracing innovation while revering styles past has earned contemporary Christian group ASHMONT HILL – named in honor of the Bostonian community – similar acclaim. Comprised of founding member Phil Thompson, sisters April Joy Thompson and Deborah Bullock, along with Deborah’s husband, Wil Bullock, the Boston-born, four member family act further cement this standard of variance via their newest album THE MAZE.
Serving as yet another showcase of the incomparable craftsmanship of the group’s own singer/songwriter Phil Thompson, the 12-song project sees the group re-team with dynamic producer Zenzo Matoga for a captivating musical journey set to lead listeners to a destination of pure praise and worship.
Following the well carved path of sonic diversity set by its two predecessors, the Billboard Gospel Album chart topping albums ASHMONT HILL (2008) and YOUR MASTERPIECE (2010), THE MAZE begins with “To You” – a drum driven, up-tempo number sure to enliven and ignite a fiery praise session amongst listeners. Acting as a compass of sorts for themes that lie ahead on the project, “To You” catalyzes a worship experience that only goes uphill as it continues. But, while the quartet’s Christian pop cloaked tunes take center stage, the album’s guest list – though terse – still showcases welcomed passengers this praise-filled expedition. With appearances from Stellar Award winner MICAH STAMPLEY, producer ZENZO MATOGA, and a host of talented musicians, the collaborations prove a prized feature of ‘The Maze’. As do tunes like ‘Fill This Temple’, ‘Amazing Grace’, and ‘If I Had Wings’ as they take listeners on a melodically narrated ride to tell tales of worshippers’ long for continued connection with the Lord. A theme found in abundance throughout ‘The Maze’ in its entirety, such feat is best highlighted in ‘Love Lifted Me’ - the album’s lead single. The heartfelt praise anthem, with its touching lyrics and stunning vocal displays, has already lifted the group to a consecutive 18 week run in the Top 15 of Billboard’s Christian Singles Charts, only intensifying the already mounting buzz of the highly anticipated project.
Set for release on August 20 on Axiom Records, ‘The Maze’ – though overflowing with the seamless vocal blend synonymous with the group’s offerings – never sees Ashmont Hill lose sight of the album’s true purpose…touching hearts and soul for the glory of Jesus Christ.
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Another Strong Offering| Posted September 02, 2013
Ashmont Hill is a CCM group with tight gospel-styled harmonies. Based out of Boston, Ashmont Hill is comprised of Phil Thompson, April Thompson, Deborah Bullock and Wil Bullock. Phil, April and Deborah are siblings, while Wil and Deborah are married. They are all a part of the ministry at Jubilee Christian Church in Boston. They are connected in many ways, but they each bring their own unique taste in music to Ashmont Hill. This year they are back with their third album, The Maze. Zenzo Matoga serves as the producer while he and Phil co-wrote the majority of the songs on the album.
Listening to their songs is actually a privilege to the ears. Case in point, "Love Lifted Me" (not to be confused with the popular hymn of the same name). On this acoustic pop song, they start off in unison and build to a beautiful harmony that causes me to close my eyes and enjoy.
It's been said that being in God's presence and truly experiencing His love totally changes things and forever ruins you to the point of no return. The group wonderfully explains "my heart is Yours" on "Ruined," while special guest Micah Stampley leads in on the vamp, "I am ruined / I am ruined / By Your Love...You take me higher / You love like fire / You take me higher / My heart is Yours."
Praise and worship is another thing that Ashmont Hill is known for. Just listen to the upbeat "To You," featuring some nice guitar work by James Peterson. This song will definitely find its place on the song list for several worship leaders. "I Will Give You Praise (featuring Brian Bullock)" is a high energy song of praise that should be easy for worship teams to learn. Even though the group's harmony is nice on this one, the arrangement is not too complex.
"I Believe" is such a fantastic and beautiful ballad that tugs at the heart strings. The three siblings' father, Bishop Gideon Thompson, issues a quick but inviting call to commit to Christ. The song then builds to a beautiful tag that will surely be a highlight at Ashmont Hill concerts.
Phil's nine-year old daughter Gabby co-wrote and also guests on "Gabby's Song." There is something about the innocence of a child that can touch hearts like no other. This song is no different. Anyone of any age can relate to lyrics like "When I am crying, I know He loves me / When I am looking, I know he's there / When I am thirsty, He is my wellspring / When I am lonely, He is my friend." Listen to this song and it will take sheer willpower not to allow tears to well up in your eyes.
Closing Thoughts: CCM fans will enjoy The Maze because the style still fits the genre. However, it is the total package of the harmonies, soothing lead vocals, and songwriting that sets it apart. Those who are staunch Gospel music fans, do not turn a deaf ear, because Ashmont Hill is just what we need to bridge more gaps between the CCM and Gospel music genres. In that, God is glorified.
Song to Download Now:
"To You" (Get it on iTunes here.)