Todd Recommends…

Together For The Gospel Live
Found this record from Sovereign Grace a couple of weeks ago. Recorded in April 2008, Together For The Gospel Live is a collection of tunes led by Bob Kauflin and over 5,000 pastors.

But this is unlike any live record I’ve heard in a long, long time.

First of all, it’s just Bob Kauflin and piano. No percussion, no additional vocalists on stage. No overdubs. Now a live record with just one person on stage isn’t necessarily all that uncommon. But this record has mixed the congregation mics so hot that in almost every song, Bob is overpowered by 5,000 voices singing these hymns. Sure, Bob is great, but for the first time in my life, I’m listening to a live record of the congregation and not the guy on stage.

Secondly, the piano stuff on here is extraordinary. The transitions are effortless and the amount of energy and variety that Kauflin puts into these songs is extremely impressive. This is definitely a record that makes you say, “Man, I wish I could play like that.”

Third, the worship leading here is so very good. Bob is excellent. Lots of worship leaders “call out” things in between lines – to cue the band, to change the order, to help the congregation if projection is lagging, etc. But Kauflin often says what’s already been sung…instead of predicting what’s coming in the next phrase, he’s punctuating what’s already been said. At first, it’s kinda’ tricky on the ear, but after awhile, it’s a nice effect. His use of scripture and story are so skillfull here. One of the best things that worship leaders can do is listen and learn from other, better people and Kauflin is definitely one of those.

Lastly, the song selection is stellar. Mostly older hymns, but some newer “hymns” fill out the record. There’s nothing better than good hymns done well and this record is all that and more.

The Medicine – John Mark McMillan
You may remember McMillan’s tune, “Death In His Grave” from a Good Friday video I posted recently.

This is without a doubt my new favorite record. McMillan is writing some of the coolest stuff I’ve heard in a long time. It’s mostly lo-fi Americana stuff and the songwriting is really good. The rocking stuff sounds like Pete Yorn/Springsteen and the slow stuff has all the cool swagger of David Gray or Mat Kearney or even Chris Whitley.

Great acoustic guitar work combined with a nice laid-back production approach don’t just support these songs – it makes the tunes come alive! This guy is writing gutsy, honest poetry that swings from outright worship to confessional peeks into broken lives and what happens when redemption finds them.

I can’t stop telling people about this record – it’s so good. If you dig artsy, roots rock stuff fantastic lyrical precision, “The Medicine” is your record.



  1. John Green

    I agree – great album.On this album, John Mark McMillan’s lyrical poetry is brilliant, and quite unlike most other Christian songwriters, with the exception of Terry Taylor. In my mind, Terry Taylor is the benchmark standard (when he is not is his silly-song mode)of finely-crafted poetic lyrics “The Medicine”, JMM gives Terry a run for his money, finding fresh new metaphors to present ancient truths. His vocal work and the music on the album are excellent also.

  2. gregg

    I have to say, the John Mark McMillian album is just brilliant. The songs just stick in my head for days after listening to the album. I just cannot explain how wonderful I think that album is.

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