The Phantom Tollbooth

Artist: Michael English
Label: Curb
Time: 10 tracks/44:25 min.

This album finds Michael English returning to his gospel roots. Gospel is English's first "Christian" album in over five years. None of these songs are new, English has been performing them in concert and at the request of his fans, finally recorded them.  The album is closer to his Bill Gaither-influenced work than his previous pop albums but also shows some slight jazz influences. You'll find such favorites as "John the Revelator," "Blessed Assurance," "I Bowed on My Knees and Cried Holy," and "Gospel Ship."  The production is good. English's vocals as usual are strong, powerful, and passionate. My personal favorite is "I Bowed on My Knees and Cried Holy." It has always been one of my favorites by English. In fact, it's permanently associated with English every time I hear it. His passion really coming through here.  I've heard a version with Gaither that I liked better, this is adequate. My next favorite is "Dig a Little Deeper," here containing a healthy dose of jazz. The song starts off fairly laid back, and then about two-thirds through he picks it up in typical English fashion.

I'm happy to see English returning to what he has always done best.  This is a great album to mark his return to the Christian market. If you like old gospel favorites, give this a try.

Shari Lloyd (11/4/98)