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Monk Rock
Artist: John Michael Talbot 
Label: Troubadour for the Lord
Time: 13 songs/58:18 minutes
Available: August 16, 2005

"There were two things I wanted to do musically as I move a bit past middle age: Really learn some classical guitar, and dig out my old electric guitars and learn to play pretty well again," said John Michael Talbot. "Monk Rock is the initial fruit from this effort."

I never thought I would hear John Michael jamming '70’s style on electric guitar on "One Body in Christ." Who would have guessed he would be playing blues licks on "Kyrie"?

With vocal harmonies reminiscent of the Talbot Brothers, and lyrics written in the simple and innocent style of the early Jesus movement music, these songs fit that genre but have the advantage of modern production. 

Some of the songs have Latin titles and include background chants, which gives them a slight otherworldly feel. A few are built around just a line or two of verse and are carried by the music.

One of the highlights is "Gloria," which is built on a catchy guitar riff and a chorus that could go on forever. The "Jesus Prayer Swing" features some rollicking, country rock guitar playing. "Spread the Good News," the first song written for the recording, is dedicated to the late John Paul II. 

Though banjo is used effectively on several cuts, and "Sanctus" starts off with flute reminiscent of Jethro Tull, the acoustic takes a back seat on this release.

Aside from the semi-humorous title, this is a serious and unique effort—one that uses the best elements from an earlier era to make a recording that is fun and relevant for today. 

Michael Dalton



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