The Phantom Tollbooth
 
Trees In The Wind
Artist: Jeff Reynolds
Label: Elijah's Ride Music/7th Time Records
Length: 11 tracks/61:22
 
A collection of songs written specifically for the Vineyard church he pastors in Oregon, Jeff Reynold's second album of worship material is accompanied by a press release which lists among his influences Bruce Cockburn, John Michael Talbot, Kevin Prosch, and T-Bone Burnett. Raynold's vocals do bear something of a resemblance to Cockburn's, although the fact that these songs are designed for corporate use means that he generally uses it in a different way.
 
The music is mainly acoustic guitar-driven, with a range of other instruments, especially electric guitar, added to develop the energy of the recordings. The sound is cohesive and well-produced, the acoustic guitar is played with finesse--there's some nice picking to be found if you dig through the arrangements--and the overall feel is warm and earthy. There is a slight similarity to Kevin Prosch, but I find this to be better focussed than some of Prosch's work.
 
The songs were written between 1990 and 1995 (Reynold's schedule meant that this project was a labour of love to complete), but given the musical style there is no need to worry about it sounding dated. When an artist lists T-Bone Burnett and Bruce Cockburn as influences you might well expect a finely tuned lyricist, but unfortunately those offered here do not measure up to those particular writers' work, even if they are in the upper quartile of current worship songwriting. There are a range of moods evoked, with a selection of different aspects of God's character being portrayed in a more balanced way than is sometimes the case in modern worship.
 
I don't think that I will find myself coming back to this album much when looking for lyrics for personal enjoyment, but when looking for some balanced worship or in need of some new songs for the church I may well return. If worship music is what you want and you like your music earthy, this may be worth investigating.

By James Stewart 10/4/98)