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  City of God
Artist: John Michael Talbot 
Label: Troubadour for the Lord
Length: 12 Tracks/51:13

John Michael Talbotís music epitomizes what I would think of as "sacred music." In his new recording _City of God_, as in his past work, I find truth, beauty and artistic excellence. In a past recording, when I read his comments about his songs, I realized just how much attention he pays to detail. I think a lot of thought goes in to every aspect of his recordings. Thatís evident once again on this new release.

Iím sure that even the title City of God is no accident. It no doubt comes from Augustineís monumental work by the same name. The cover art features a painting of Augustineís imagined city. Itís also the theme of the title song. 

The opening electric guitar chords on the song were a pleasant surprise. It made me wonder if Phil Keaggy had stopped by to lend a hand. (My demo did not contain the liner notes so I canít say who the performer is. Itís played so deftly that it would not surprise me if it was Phil.) 

The electric guitar, drums, piano, and mandolin are instruments that are found on some of the songs here but not on other recordings. They are employed to good use. The guitar work is always tasteful and never overpowering. His trademark plucking and gentle voice are still here but supported at times by a choir of voices. A few songs even have a little bit of Talbot brothers feel. 

Unlike some of his previous work, there are a lot of tempo changes in the songs. Some like the title song sound joyful. Others are quieter and more worshipful. Those who think his music sounds the same need to hear this.

All but one of the songs was unfamiliar to me. They consist mostly of simple praise and worship type songs. It was a real delight to hear the song that I recognized. "For You Are My God" is a song that was recorded well before the current trend of praise and worship music. Johnís treatment of it is similar to the original and is a definite highlight. I appreciate the comfort that I felt as I listened to "Here I Am." On it John sings of Godís nearness to help us in difficult times.

This recording is a follow-up to the popular Table of Plenty that was released in 1997. Having never heard it, I canít make a comparison, but I donít believe that those who enjoyed the early recording would be disappointed with this. City of God is John Michael Talbot at his best.

Michael Dalton 3/24/05



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