We need more Christian musicians like John Mark McMillan, who can create music that stirs the heart and write lyrics that can feed the soul. In the meantime, I'll put on my copy of Borderland, sit back, and just enjoy the immense talent that McMillan brings to the table.
Artist: John Mark McMillan
Label: Lionhawk Records
Time: 56 minutes/11 tracks
Sometimes it's hard to believe that a tremendous talent like John Mark McMillan would have to resort to a Kickstarter campaign to finance his next record, but then I look at what's popular and remember that talent often is not a factor in a musician's success. Fortunately for us, McMillan was able to secure the funds he needed to record Borderland, and the world is better for it.
If you know McMillan's music, you're probably used to his folk rock style, and while that's still evident on this new record, McMillan has decided to mix up his sound a bit, adding heavy synths and strings to flesh out the songs. Overall, it gives the record a late 80's/early 90's feel without resorting to the dated production that music from that era tends to have. This move could possibly turn off some of McMillan's diehard fans, but I'm glad to see him stretching in new directions rather than sticking with the same, well-worn groove.
Not only is McMillan a fine musician, but he is also a brilliant lyricist, and he proves that again here. The words to these songs tell me that this a very personal record for McMillan, and there seems to be a running theme of dependence on God throughout the record. "Holy Ghost" starts things off with strings and piano slowly building to a crescendo as McMillan makes a stirring, emotional plea for strength that only the Holy Spirit can give. It's a song written from a personal perspective, but it's extremely relatable for anyone who follows Christ. "Counting On" shows a man in the depths of frustration and suffering resting in God's faithfulness as he says, "You're what I'm counting on." The title track, a meditation on Christians struggling to live in a carnal world, might just be the best song on the record, and it might also be the best song Bruce Springsteen never wrote.
There are also two strong, worshipful tunes in "Future/Past" and "Heart Runs." Where much modern worship music runs toward the bland and generic, McMillan crafts beautiful, heartfelt odes to God's majestic grandeur as well as His ability to be everything we truly need. We need more Christian musicians like John Mark McMillan, musicians that can create music that stirs the heart and write lyrics that can feed the soul.
In the meantime, I'll put on my copy of Borderland, sit back, and just enjoy the immense talent that McMillan brings to the table.