The Phantom Tollbooth

Artist: five o'clock people
Label: grey matters recordings
Time: 5 tracks/20:51 min.

Most of us in the midwest discovered five o'clock people on the New Band Stage at Cornerstone Festival last July. They are in no way a new band, however, fall actually being their third album. They are better known along the West coast, having played their coffeehouse folk-rock at colleges,  coffee houses, and churches along the way, sharing stages with everyone from Vigilantes of Love and Sixpence None the Richer to Five Iron Frenzy.

Playing any combination of instruments, including acoustic guitars, violin,  mandolin, bass, accordion, drums, and an odd mix hand percussion, this band couples tight-knit vocal harmonies and insightful lyrics. The lyrics cover issues of faith, relationships, and failure and grace with creative intelligence. Not your usual CCM fare. The music is interesting and well played, and varied. They are very accessible and mainstream in a  Jars of Clay sort of way, in spite of their eclectic instrumentation.

The only drawback is the vocals all seem to be in the same range, which is strange since the songs are done by two different vocalists. This tends to make the vocals a little boring by the end of the album since they sound so similar. Thankfully, they offset that somewhat by saving the best for last-- ending with "Living Water," a wonderful praise song based on Psalm 84.

Don't look for five o'clock people on a major label any time soon. While continuing to build a large regional fanbase, they seem happy with their indie status, just hoping to sell a few thousand CDs every now and then to keep them out of day jobs.

For copies, send your album request(s) and $10 per cd (includes s & h) to:
         five o clock people
         c/o grey matters recordings
         P.O. Box 761
         Newberg, OR 97132.

By Shari Lloyd (11/12/98)