I first read about John Mark McMillan after I googled the writer of “How He Loves.” I heard it on the Jesus Culture (Kim Walker) album We Cry Out. It is such a powerful song and even though I’ve never been quite able to get cozy with the “sloppy wet kiss” line, the song still moves me. There’s no doubt the Spirit is all over it. I also read his blog and enjoy his views on all sorts of things from songwriting to sleeping in on Easter (not to mention his appreciation of Springsteen, which I’ve been known to share :).
So I was excited to download his newest album, The Medicine, a couple months ago. If I was going to make a comparison voice/soundwise it would be to Shawn Mullins. The writing is original and intricate; full of striking imagery and evocative sounds. The production is intricate and you truly get an album born in the studio with a soundscape of layers that reveal themselves in new ways with each listen.
“Carbon Ribs” exemplifies this with its plucked strings and layers of electric guitars. There is a definite moodiness to the track as it explores the wonder of being dead but yet alive.
My favorite track, “Dress Us Up,” contains a lyric that took my breath away (literally) when I first heard it. It begins, “Dress us up in your righteousness/Bring us in with a ring and a kiss/When you walk into the room you know we can’t resist/Every bottle of perfume always ends up on the floor in a mess.” I don’t think I’ve heard a more original description of what happens when Jesus comes in a room: we have to worship. If there’s perfume (as with Mary in John 12) the bottles come out and we pour it on His feet. We give Him the very best of what we have — it’s automatic. He elicits this kind of response when we see Him for who He really is.
There are many other standouts like “Skeleton Bones” and “Philadelphia,” but I recommend digesting it as a whole album. Turn off the shuffle and enjoy a well thought-out and imagined work of art.