Thursday, October 8, 2009

Jill Phillips: Kingdom Come

Jill Phillips: Kingdom Come
Fervent Records (2005)

Ten Hymns (Eight traditional, two original), presented in a stripped down folksy way -- using pretty much piano, guitar (Bozouki or mandolin), understated percussion, and bass. I found this album in the bargain bin. I liked the price, but it didn’t belong there.

Kingdom Come is refreshing for its apparent simplicity. I know even simplicity is often illusion, but the creators really are to be commended for what isn’t there. Husband Andy Gullahorn is responsible for the production and melodic finger-style guitar   --  which, in combination  with Matt Stanfield's delicate piano -- and Jill's mostly "quietish" voice -- define the overall sound. Jill is joined by a handful of sometimes prominent Nashvillites (?) on background vocals. I recognized the names of Christine Dente (Out of the Grey) and Derek Webb (a Christian folkster);  Even so, you have to listen closley for her parterns in duet.

Kingdom Come has accomplished something rare. While the overall instrumentation and vocal treatments are more akin to the coffee house than the cathedral, Kingdom Come isn’t casual. Think folk-classical. It maintains a reverence, even a sobriety that belongs to the heart of an earlier generation. Several of the hymns are delivered with alternate tunes, or tunings, but there is a never sense that the hymns have been hijacked or run through a ‘mak’em-modern' filter. I fully believe Jill when she sings these songs, and want to join her in the reverence.  My favorite: an alternate tune rendition of Fairest Lord Jesus, delivered with spare counterpoint piano in a minor key.

Jill’s voice is beautiful in a normal – slightly northern kind of way. (This is a Nashville Product, but you could have said Canada, and I would embrace it.) Jill doesn’t sound like a “performer” or somebody doing “arty stuff” with her voice. She sings understated and direct. (At times she does sound just a little like pop singer Cheryl Crow, or fellow gospel singer Carolyn Arends, though again, without much fanfare.

All of which make for a product I fully recommend. This CD feeds my inner man.

(Only complaint, the linear notes do not note the names of the hymnists (or publication dates) and only reference "Public Domain".   Thats the kind of stuff a hymn lover wants to know.)

I have recently added Jill as a Facebook friend (find her fan page here) and was amused by some other FB friend who quipped: “I see you (Jill) are on tour… I didn’t even know you sang!” Now I don’t know if that is because Jill’s friend is from years back, or if Jill fills her day hours with lots of other things. Kingdom Come, however, is Jill’s second (or third?) album out of five or six?. (Though you can't really see it in her lone hymns album, she is a first class lyricist.)  I own  “Writing on the Wall” and hope to acquire her most recent two soon.

Final Note: Jill and husaband appear to be part of  a circle of friends and literary types who not only support each other in music and other creative dallies, but read books and write about them.  I plan on visiting the Rabbit Room on a routine basis.



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