As something of an audiophile, I’m always on the lookout for more great music. And now I am much obliged to my cousin’s brother-in-law Eric for posting a video of John Mark McMillan on my cousin’s facebook wall. I watched the video, a live(?) performance of his song Death in His Grave, and was captivated.
I’ll be honest with you – I’m not a huge fan of most popular Christian music nowadays. In fact, I’m working on what will amount to a full-on research paper laying out exactly why it is that Christian top-40 radio puts me to sleep.
So when I run across a Christian artist like John Mark McMillan, I get pretty excited. I downloaded his second studio release, The Medicine, on Wednesday of this week. To be honest, I’m having a bit of a difficult time classifying this album… Sometimes it sounds a lot like a high quality worship production. Sometimes it sounds more like a singer-songwriter piece. Other times sound like pure atmosphere. There are moments that would fit equally well playing in a sold-out arena or in a small club. Throughout, though, are McMillan’s gritty baritone vocals, Glen Hansard-like in their tone, register, emotion, and transparency.
If I had to slap a label on John Mark McMillan and The Medicine, I guess I would say that it sounds like part Bruce Springsteen, part U2, part Robbie Seay Band, part Glen Hansard, part Jakob Dylan, part Explosions in the Sky.
The Bottom Line
Having only heard one song by John Mark McMillan, but having loved it, I went into this album expecting some pretty great things. And, truth be told, it surpassed my expectations. To my ears (starved for Christian music that is actually good music), it was like a breath of fresh air after wandering around in a landfill. Seriously, I don’t know how this guy and his band aren’t all over the place. I found out that, for the most part, the only John Mark McMillan song anybody really seems to know is How He Loves, and most people seem to think that David Crowder wrote it; they’re completely unaware that Crowder’s recording is a cover.
Even though I went into this album with high expectations, The Medicine far surpassed them, earning +6 cannarfs. It’s just that good.