The Phantom Tollbooth
Music and more from a Christian perspective
Slow down, and have your change ready
Conveying a sense of God’s power and majesty.
Label: Centricity Music
Length: 10 songs/42 minutes
Have you heard? Many popular worship songs originate from one of four sources: Bethel in Redding; Hillsong, based in Australia; Passion City Church in Atlanta; and Elevation, a North Carolina congregation that is part of the Southern Baptist Convention. This partially accounts for why so many of these songs are similar. It explains why the theology tends to be alike, in some cases reflecting a Charismatic orientation. Having had some negative impressions of the latter, I’m a little uncomfortable with songs that to some degree emphasize signs and wonders.
I like that Wild Faith by Patrick Mayberry originates from Centricity Music, a label that I appreciate for it’s quality releases. Though the style and sound may have similarities to the aforementioned, the songs are concise, with only one crossing the five minute mark. I also appreciate that the lyrics don’t reflect an unhealthy preoccupation with the supernatural.
This is not to say that there isn’t a note of victory. “Never Stop Singing,” the opener is a celebration!
Neither is it safe. The title song “Wild Faith” is bold and encouraging, a song of revival. It’s an exhortation to get off the sidelines and exercise one’s gifts. I appreciate it for stating that it’s costly. It’s a challenge!
The duet that follows with David Crowder, “Lead On Good Shepherd,” is boisterous roots rock with slide guitar asking God to lead the way. Psalm 23 would seem an unlikely inspiration for such a raw sound but this is a highlight. Crowder fans take note.
The spiritual, “Give Me Jesus,” has been given stanzas to go along with the familiar part, which now serves as a chorus. So it’s structured less like a spiritual and more like a song. The closing “Right Here” has acoustic moments and includes a sax in the background. The latter leaves a brief, exquisite instrumental outro.
It’s been said rightly or wrongly that some popular worship seems effeminate. Maybe part of it is an emphasis on God being described as one’s lover or softer vocals and sounds. This has a definite masculine feel if I can characterize it in these terms. Part of it is a strong male voice that reminds me of Matt Maher. In this context I can’t help thinking of Bono’s quip: “Every man knows he is a sissy compared to Johnny Cash.” Frank Sinatra is another strong male voice. Similarly, even though there are scattered quieter moments, the music is sharp and focused rather than repetitive and dreamy.
It wasn’t that long ago that music with this kind of loudness coupled with sophistication was not technologically available, nor theologically palatable. It has come a long ways from earnest folk imaginings and crude production. In its defense, why shouldn’t thunderous music be an option since the God of glory himself thunders? Thinking this way helps me to appreciate modern worship for what it can be and how it can enhance. It can convey a sense of God’s power that transcends lyrics.
Thinking about the last four songs and the release in general, they convey a sense of God’s majesty through focusing on his attributes. It’s magnificent praise!
This is a studio production that could easily pass for a live recording. This seems to be a common practice, designed to provide more options and greater quality.