John Mark McMillan: Mercury & Lightning

Seven years after his breakthrough hit “How He Loves Us,” McMillan still has plenty to say about the messy intersections of faith and life. The lyrics find a man pausing to take stock of the twists and turns of his life: “Who I am is greater than the me of who I once dreamed” (Persephone); “All the things I do to survive, they only make me feel old” (Death in Reverse). He’s not standing still musically either. “No Country” sounds for all the world like mid-90s Springsteen, but then “Magic Mirror” spends its time in a falsetto never attempted by The Boss. “Gods of American Success” layers horns above a steady U2 beat. “Wilderlove” and “Unhaunted” offer a master class in the uses of percussion to enhance a track, while “Death in Reverse” and its ambient baskmasked companion “esrevernihtaed” drop out the drums altogether in favor of synth pads and choir. As with Josh Garrels or Sufjan Stevens, every track rewards repeat careful listening to appreciate all that’s going on. Fans of Crowder’s mix or the organic and the electronic will find much to love here.

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