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Songs for the Thirsty
Posted December 22, 2015
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer


John Mark McMillan is a unique voice in the increasing clamor as worship music has taken precedence on stages and airwaves across the country. Ever since the days of early tracks like "Death In His Grave," "Skeleton Bones" and the incalculably impactful "How He Loves," McMillan has displayed an uncanny ability to bridge the gap between standard corporate worship and the disillusioned and soul-thirsty, inviting hearts into praise with a winning sincerity and lack of contrivances.

His latest release Live at the Knight exhibits those same characteristics, capturing a beautiful blend of reverence and energy in a live recording created in partnership with Jesus Culture. The evening's setlist centers around songs from most recent full length album Borderlands. This places the tone for the project in the neighborhood of reflective and soul-searching but ultimately triumphantly fixed on the changeless love of God, as a beautiful rendition of "Future Past" in partnership with Kim Walker-Smith demonstrates well.

The bombastic, soaring divine narratives like "Guns Napoleon," "Love at the End" and "Death In His Grave" (complete with horns) capture an uncontained energy in this format that lends a new dynamic to how the songs are engaged. The big musical moments are punctuated by McMillan's wry humor and unassuming humility as he speaks between performances.

Part of this project's power is in its collaborative nature. In addition to "Future Past," Kim Walker-Smith also sings on "How He Loves"-- a fitting combination given that Kim's version of the song was part of what brought it to prominence. Bryan and Katie Torwalt appear on "Death In His Grave" and "Heart Runs," respectively. John Mark McMillan has been collaborating with his wife Sarah McMillan in increasingly visible ways (such as on recent joint project You Are the Avalanche), and this live album continues that trend with Sarah appearing on "Glorious Things" and their beautiful co-written track "King of My Heart."

The Bottom Line:
If a lot of contemporary worship has begun to feel dry and sterile, this rowdy, passionate set of live songs might be exactly the refreshment you need.

Song to Download Now:
"Future Past" (Get it on iTunes here.)

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