Jonathan McReynolds - Life Music: Stage Two (2015)

Jonathan McReynolds
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If it has been left up to a teenaged Jonathan McReynolds, the world may never have heard the soaring and buttery tenor featured on 2012’s Life Music and the recently released Life Music: Stage Two. The Chicago native and emerging star on the gospel music scene grew up in church where he first played the drums and then the organ/piano, while also singing in the choir. McReynolds recalls that he was cool with being a multi-instrumentalist and singing as a part of the choir.

If it has been left up to a teenaged Jonathan McReynolds, the world may never have heard the soaring and buttery tenor featured on 2012’s Life Music and the recently released Life Music: Stage Two. The Chicago native and emerging star on the gospel music scene grew up in church where he first played the drums and then the organ/piano, while also singing in the choir. McReynolds recalls that he was cool with being a multi-instrumentalist and singing as a part of the choir.

However, McReynolds’ mother encouraged him to add lead singer to his many God given talents, and the artist slowly begin to reconsider the reluctance that stemmed from his desire to avoid the attention – negative and positive – that accompanies being the vocalist. McReynolds then pursued a bachelor’s degree at Columbia College, where he refined his singing, production and keyboard skills while also learning more about the business side of the industry. It was during McReynolds’ time at Columbia that a series of events happened that allowed his music to be heard by someone who in turn played it on the radio. Once listeners heard McReynolds’ expressive tenor in combination with his writing and production skills, avoiding the mic was pretty much out of the question.

The skills that Jonathan McReynolds amassed during his time woodshedding in the highly demanding world of a musician on the Chicago gospel scene and then in the academy serve him very well on Life Music: Stage Two. McReynolds proves his mettle as an arranger/producer who can go from who can move from the gospel quartet arrangement of “Jesus (feat. Corey Barksdale),” to the country influenced “Whole (featuring India.Arie)” and the praise of worship anthem “Christ Representers.”

McReynolds is among that group of gospel artists comfortable moving beyond the praise and worship genre by penning songs that detail the everyday struggles faced by Christians and how their faith walk helps them overcome. “Maintain” is a sweet acoustic singer/songwriter duet that pairs McReynolds with Chantae Cann and sports the narrative of a prayer to God to maintain faith, patience and sanity in a world where it is increasingly easy to lose all. “I recognize that this a day that you have made/So I walk around and put a smile upon my face/But in case I run into someone on a different page/Help me maintain.”

On the blue-inspired “Limp,” McReynolds uses the analogy of an injury or disability to show how we are all imperfect because of our sins, hang ups and flaws. Yet, the faithful continue to move forward in an effort to be like Christ, who when he carried the cross struggled and limped under the weight of humanity’s sins. “See I fell and I broke something/But I couldn’t tell cuz I kept running/Away from your love and grace/So my trips and my pains/My failures/They only make me desperate/To see your face.”

At 26, McReynolds brings a level of polish that belies his age. He manages to incorporate much of what is happening in contemporary pop music while also making his profession to Christ plain. There is always more growth that any artist can make, but with Life Music: Stage Two, McReynolds moves to the head of the class, and will undoubtedly have gospel music fans enjoying the right now while eagerly anticipating what stage three will bring. Highly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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