The Phantom Tollbooth

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Since 1996

Warm and fun, “Golden” celebrates God’s love

Mixtape Vol. 1: Side A
Coby James
Label: Centricity Music
Length: 4 songs/14 minutes

On Mixtape Vol. 1: Side A Coby James opens with a fun and happy song. The playful feel to “Golden” is a mixture of expertly woven styles, predominantly R&B and pop. The captivating melody is punctuated by snappy sounds and sunny lyrics about God’s love. I feel better just hearing it. Horns at the end add to the magic.

“Castles” is more pop/rock. One of my favorite moments comes during a bridge that takes its thought from an old hymn:

You’re the rock
Where I stand
All other ground
Is sinking sand

It’s during this declaration that some loud, feedback-laden guitar is mixed in, which is strangely appealing.

Building apart from God is a castle made of sand that ultimately will wash away. Thus, the repeated refrain, “I’m gonna do what God says.”

“Simple” gets personal as the singer wrestles with the drawbacks of fame. Oswald Chambers, the author of My Utmost for His Highest, reckoned that aside from disobedience a refusal to be simple is a source of stumbling. Christians may identify with the longing for the simplicity found in early faith.

This release becomes more personal with each song, the closing “New Roots” being the most intimate of all, reflected in some of the softest moments. It starts with gentle strumming slowly building to a climax where it becomes more dynamic.

I like the reference to family and home in verse 2:

When I miss my mom, miss my dad
Miss my home and the wide open skies
In the mystery, the unseen
I know you will be, be my guide

A pre-chorus consisting of two short lines is beautifully sung in falsetto over a starry-sounding keyboard.

The maker of the stars
Is holding up my heart

It makes for a fitting end. The release begins with fun and ends in worship.

The cover image looks like an old record with ring wear. It shows a giant sunflower surrounded by a sunny, mountainous terrain. I wonder if Centricity will consider making this available on vinyl along with the companion releases?

Side A has a pop focus, Side B highlights acoustic guitar skills, and Side C explores a more experimental side.

This 19-year-old from a small town outside of Raleigh, NC considers himself a student of John Mayer. Guitar is his instrument of choice, which he uses to write and produce his own music.

Michael Dalton

This is the way to do Irish traditional music: beautiful tunes and a mix of moods. Nic Amhlaoibh means ‘Sea maiden’ and the sea is a theme in these songs.  

Stretching oneself musically can be worth the effort for both artists and listeners.

Am I crazy to compare them with Yes? This massive career retrospective of these mellow and oh-so-English proggers has plenty of highlights.

…many prog bands are proficient at creating songs that sound like riffs in search of a melody, but these stand out as strongly-composed songs, performed well and sung with style and power.


  The Neal Morse Band (now NMB) might pretend to be innocent but this is dangerously good music!

Arena-sized anthems from an Atlanta-based ministry

<imgclass="pull-left" style="margin-right: 10px;" src="/images/transatlantic-90px.jpg" alt="" /> The title hints at the ambition of this huge prog project. Why release just one album, when you can release two (or three) versions at once? But which one to buy?

Duo translates the many colors of hymns into rural magic.

This pushes the ‘worship leader’ boundaries in a way that is long overdue.

Here is more of exactly what we love about this band – beautiful harmonies and tunes that make you tingle.

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