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John Mark McMillan - Borderland [Review & Giveaway]

John Mark McMillan - Borderland [Review & Giveaway]

By Mathew Reames on February 27, 2014

John Mark McMillan is a worship leader, but not like most. His songs rarely seem friendly and inviting to a congregation, yet they are deeply passionate and filled with rich theology. Much of what he writes doesn’t fit into your average Sunday morning, yet it resonates in that deep place within the soul. 

His latest album Borderland, releasing March 4, is a reflection of that. This 11 track album is one of the greatest albums I have ever heard. It is a masterpiece. As you listen to it your spirit is fully engaged. However, very little of it is designed to fit in a normal worship set. Most of the songs would sound severely out of place when settled in next to a Hillsong or Passion song. That being said, I want to again specify that this album is a masterpiece. In fact, if I had to describe it, I would say this is the album that would play as Christ splits the sky and returns to earth on a white horse. It has that epic of a feel to it.

The stand out track on this album, and the one most suited to congregational worship, is the song “Future / Past”. This is one of the most brilliant songs of the last few years. The lyricism is deep and poetic, but also very solid. It focuses on Christ in the role of a Friend, but then magnifies Him also as the Beginning and the End. The song is written so that if you only have a piano, or a solo acoustic, the song still works. But if you have a full band it has the ability to find room for everybody. It may not work in every congregation because of the poetic metaphor, but you cannot listen to it without being stirred deeply.

Another standout track to me was the first track, “Holy Ghost”. This one is not quite as congregationally friendly, but it is one of the most naturally passionate worship songs I have ever heard. It deals with the struggle of life and how the Holy Ghost is our only strength. This song reverberates deep down in the spirit. If your church is open to more abstract worship, this song is guaranteed to strike a chord.

The second track on the album, “Love At The End”, is a very fun track. It is not at all worship friendly, but has high energy that will get people excited. It’s one that would be good as a pre-service track. John Mark and some of his friends recorded a fantastic music video that is equal parts genius and insanity.

It’s hard to pick standout tracks on this album, but one that is great, and could possibly work in a modern congregation, is the track “Silver Shores”. This one, too, is more of an abstract song. It deals with the struggle of living in the world and how we need to remember that we are residents of heaven and were born for heaven; to be with Christ. It’s an absolutely brilliant track.

I began with a song that was congregationally friendly and I want to end with another. The track “Heart Runs” is a soaring anthem of love to God. As with any John Mark song, the lyricism is bold and imaginative, but truly expresses the overflow of a heart that is running to God and overflowing with love for Him. This is a song that will resonate in the heartbeat of any congregation.

I love the abstract beauty of this album. There are moments where it’s written for the body of Christ to enter into His presence, and there are moments where it is for the individual to express the overflow and truth of His heart. It reminds me of the psalms. Some psalms are beautiful, happy songs of the mercy of God. Yet others focus on the struggles of the world and the need for God to move. This is a 5 Star album only because I have no more stars to give. (tweet this) This album is the soundtrack of the human heart in relationship to the Eternal King, Christ Jesus.

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Disclosure: A copy of this album was provided by the record label or artist for review purposes. The iTunes widget above is a part of an affiliate program. If you purchase the album through the widget, a small percentage of the sale will benefit All About Worship.

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Mathew Reames

Mathew Reames

Mathew is a missionary and a worship leader serving the global body of Christ through worship training, biblical teaching, and evangelism. He resides in Lawrence, KS and Serves at Eagle Rock Church when not on the mission field.