John Stoddart - Faith, Hope, Love (2010)

John Stoddart
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There is a temptation to assume that a talent like John Stoddart came from nowhere. The surname Stoddart sounds a whole lot like Studdard so maybe people will get him confused with American Idol winner Rueben Studdard. Stoddart's latest album Faith, Hope, Love will prompt people to try to learn a little more about this guy because the record is so good. Trust me, anyone who can make music this excellent came from somewhere. The work on Faith, Hope, Love is so well polished, so lyrically strong and Stoddart's vocals are so refined that it's instantly clear that he's something more than a novice who caught lightening in a bottle. Long time SoulTrackers know Stoddart from his 2003 release Wings to Walk This Road.

There is a temptation to assume that a talent like John Stoddart came from nowhere. The surname Stoddart sounds a whole lot like Studdard so maybe people will get him confused with American Idol winner Rueben Studdard. Stoddart's latest album Faith, Hope, Love will prompt people to try to learn a little more about this guy because the record is so good. Trust me, anyone who can make music this excellent came from somewhere. The work on Faith, Hope, Love is so well polished, so lyrically strong and Stoddart's vocals are so refined that it's instantly clear that he's something more than a novice who caught lightening in a bottle. Long time SoulTrackers know Stoddart from his 2003 release Wings to Walk This Road. They may also be familiar with is work with performers such as Kirk Whalum, Michael McDonald, Diana Ross and Patti Austin (just to name a few).The fact of the matter is that the classically trained Stoddart worked and continues to work with a who's who from the gospel, jazz R&B and pop world for the better part of the last 20 years.

The result of all of that hard work can be heard on Faith, Hope, Love. Stoddart is a man of deep faith, and that come through in this album even if it is not a religious record. A listener can play this record - with its stories of the daily struggles, doubts, victories and defeats that people face in the marriage relationship - for the church deacon without worry. Don't take that to mean that Stoddart's prose is less than hard hitting. Stoddart opts to use his songs to talk openly about the challenges that he has confronted during his 12 plus years of marriage, and how he and his wife, Helen have emerged stronger.

He sings about trying to stay true to the commitment that a couple made on their wedding day on the mid tempo song "A Promise is A Promise." On the next song, "I Still Believe," Stoddart expresses his wish to continue believing in the vows and in the love that propels a couple to the altar. On both songs, Stoddart's lyrics showcase his ability to encapsulate the mix of emotions that get mashed up in marriages into songs that never sound cliché. In that sense, it's fitting that Stoddart chose to remake the Bill Withers song "Lovely Day." Withers' songwriting always possessed the same conversational and down to earth style.

The songs on Faith, Hope, Love tell the story of a man who wonders if this marriage thing is worth it to a someone who decides that his wife will be his last and only dance partner. Stoddart has done more than make an album. He's created a work that can be used in marriage counseling. I can actually envision couples listening to this record as they try to get from point A to a happier and more secure point B. Highly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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