Puck - 2003 - 44 minutes

Neil Young's 'On the Beach', Talk Talk's 'Laughing Stock', Beck's 'Sea Change'... healing albums, which can do as much for the person listening as those who've lived them. While 'Universal Hall' might not be in that classic company, it's all too easy - in the best way - to get carried away with hope during and afterwards and serves as the perfect flipside to the darker sound of 2000's 'A Rock in a Weary Land'.

Now down to a trio of Mike Scott, Richard Naiff and prodigal 'Boy Steve Wickham, 'Universal Hall' was recorded under and named after the theatre of the Findhorn Community in Scotland where Scott has lived for nearly ten years. And whatever space Findhorn has afforded its inhabitants, to the world listening outside it seems like The Waterboys captured the energy.

Light of touch and loose of sound, the largely acoustic feel works best with both time and the right frame of mind - come at this album hurried or hassled and Scott's redemption songs may not hit their targets. Only on 'Seek the Light' - where the light recalled is Crockett and Tubbs from 'Miami Vice' driving a speedboat into the sunset - do the charms wane but elsewhere, this record will brighten any corner.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: This Light is for the World - The Christ in You - Silent Fellowship - Every Breath is Yours - Peace of Iona - Ain't No Words for the Things I'm Feeling - Seek the Light - I've Lived Here Before - Always Dancing, Never Getting Tired - The Dance at the Crossroads - EBOL - Universal Hall