Jeffrey Joseph Kingdom Come as reviewed in The Phantom Tollbooth.Songs that speak objectively in adoration of the triune God's work in creation, salvation and, as my pastor is lately fond of saying, His "allness."

Jeffrey Joseph
Kingdom Come

It probably happens more than I'd have ever thought. Music leaders at local churches write their own praise & worship songs and record them. By themselves. Kingdom Come from Jeffrey Joseph happens to be my initial encounter with the phenomenon.

(Jeffrey Joseph's not his real first and last name, but how crazy is it that not just another singer, but another specializing in P & W, shares those two with him? Crazy as Joseph being one of three men with the same last name on staff at his church, only one of whom is his brother, eh?)  

Joseph's debut balances the kind of mainstream rock orientation that defines so much commercially available modern P & W-which can get a bit loud at his own church-with the kinds of melodies and instrumentation marking hymnody before the lineage that led the Church from then rollicking folkiness of the hippies of the '60s-'70s Jesus movement to Chris Tomlin's U2- and Coldplay-isms.

Not only does Kingdom Come offer stylistic balance, but equilibrium in doctrinal/theological emphases, too. Though Joseph in his (Sun)day job will lead the flock in numbers by Hillsong writers, Matt Redman and others who may stress  emotive, personal expression of Christianity, his own writing counters those impulses amply with songs that speak objectively in adoration of the triune God's work in creation, salvation and, as my pastor is lately fond of saying, His "allness."

Perhaps by virtue of recording the album's 11 songs by himself in a home studio, and the software used in the process, a couple numbers bear the influence of the kind of English '80s electro-pop's that found favor in the U.S.. Joseph was likely no more than a tween when such acts were in their heyday, but it was sometimes difficult to not think of A Flock Of Seagulls, Tears For Fears and Naked Eyes when hearing some of Joseph's textural choices. Possibly more affecting, however, are those starker arrangements where his voice is accompanied only by guitar or piano (or reasonable facsimile thereof).        
As for Joseph's voice, it's a fine high baritone instrument fit for the kind of earnestness his proffers here. But, though he gave me personal assurance that he didn't use anything so heinous as AutoTune or other vocal processing effects, there still seems to be a bit or fuzziness around it. That bit of a detriment's not abetted any by a recording mix that's at least a hairsbreadth flat, presenting a sound not quite so fulsome as that heard when he's doing his thing at the Evangelical Free body he leads in song most every weekend.       

The distractions do nothing to diminish Joseph's promise as a fledgling voice in providing praise&worship tunes for the wider church if that's his aim. As he might better integrate his musical influences and incorporate more as he continues to write songs that are congregationsally apt for singing in unison and Scripturally sound, here's hoping his artistry's noticed beyond the Wisconsin town he and I call home.

Jamie Lee Rake

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