From the moment he first shared his music, writing his debut album Life Music as a college student, Jonathan McReynolds has burst onto the scene as one of the freshest voices in music today, building a rising tide of acclaim from fans of all ages and peers across genres, from Gospel to Christian, R&B/Soul artists and more. Hailed for his inspiring messages, his far-reaching talents and musicianship as a young singer-songwriter and compelling live performer.
Featuring the singles "Gotta Have You," and "Pressure," McReynolds has crafted an unforgettable sound that shatters expectations at every turn on his highly-anticipated new album, melding acoustic, gospel, pop sounds and more with powerful lyrics, and collaborating with producers and artists that include India.Arie, Chuck Harmony, Claude Kelly, Warryn Campbell, PJ Morton, Derek Minor, DJ Camper and Israel Houghton. The lead single "Gotta Have You" continues to garner wide attention, with airplay across Gospel, Urban, Urban AC and Rhythmic radio stations.
Jonathan McReynolds says, "I wrote my first album as a college student. This second album, as a college teacher. My life has changed -- different pressures, more revelation, more musical ideas. The one thing that hasn't: my approach to songwriting. Still aiming to be transparent and genuine. Message first."
Since his first release Life Music, which featured the singles "No Gray," "I Love You," and "Lovin' Me," the Dove and Stellar Award-nominated artist shows no signs of slowing down, hitting stages around the world as a sought-after performer, with past appearances that have included being showcased as a BET Music Matters artist, performing at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, BET Celebration of Gospel, the Stellar Awards, and the Essence Festival, where he's returned to perform at the 2015 Essence Festival's For the Love of R&B Superlounge.
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Propelling Gospel Forward| Posted September 21, 2015
Jonathan McReynolds is coming from the whirlwind of the last two to three year period, a timeframe in which he went from being a relatively underground artist known in his hometown of Chicago to taking the Gospel and even R&B industry by storm. People were blown away by the no-frills lyrics and his crisp voice. He came on the scene at the right time, and what he brings is needed.
If Life Music was a shot of uniqueness and fresh air into the veins of Gospel music, Life Music: Stage Two is the healing needed to propel people forward. While still bringing the relatability of the first record, the mood on this album is more upbeat as a whole.
Jonathan rides the beat on the urban-tinged "The Way That You Love Me" while expressing sincere thoughts of quitting, yet remembering God's love. This brother has a way of putting lyrics in a manner that makes them relatable to the point of drawing in those who are not the biggest fans of the Gospel music genre.
Another example is "Limp:" "See I fell and I broke something / But I can't tell, cause I kept running from Your loving grace./ So my trips and pains / My failures, they only make me desperate to seek Your face / The devil hoped this 'injury' would make stop and take defeat / But I know Jesus walks with me so I'll just keep on walking with my limp, oh." The verses are mostly backed by a steady kick drum and accented by a bluesy acoustic guitar. There is so much to pull from when listening to "Limp" and also the vulnerability of "Pressure."
"Stay High" just puts a smile on my face, and it is pretty cool to see Jonathan teeter totter on the line between folk and soul, with a small hint of reggae. Derek Minor shows his versatility as an emcee as he makes his flow match the mood (and style) of the song very well.
"Got My Love" is an uptempo jam that should grab attention of music lovers and those who just want to express their love for God. There needs to be a Jonnyswim/Jonathan McReynolds collaboration and/or tour very soon. Jonathan again partners with Israel Houghton for "All Things Well," which was only fitting since Jonathan was on Israel's recent release.
The breathtaking vocals of Chantae Cann and Indie Arie grace "Maintain" and "Whole," respectively. Corey Barksdale helps close out the album with "Jesus," which is the only Gospel-sounding song on the album. They take us back to the days of riding to church listening to the Gospel station.
Closing Thoughts: Life Music: Stage Two is a great album lyrically, sonically and organically. The collaborations were smart, and the production by Jonathan, Aaron Lindsay, PJ Morton, Warryn Campbell didn't make him sound scattered. My relationship with God is reassured and challenged by this album. I am begging those who do not know him to please give this album a chance--it will be worth it.
Song to Download Now:
"Limp" (Get it on iTunes now.)