John Mark McMillan’s “The Song Inside the Sound of Breaking Down (Re-Release)”

“Packed with intensity, emotion and a heart laid bare, it seemed that McMillan could hold his peace no longer in these tracks that burst forth from a ready pen and a fiery soul.” -HE

Holly Etchison
JMM Songs inside the sound of breaking down

9
out of 10

John Mark McMillan
The Song Inside the Sound of Breaking Down (Re-Release)
September 4, 2012

“We wake, if we ever wake at all, to mystery, rumors of death, beauty, violence…”Annie Dillard

There is something about broken things. You have to notice them; they beckon to be fixed, or discarded. For an artist, times of brokenness can be a best friend. Expression that comes from this place seems pure and has a plainspoken appeal. Talk to Dylan: “I can change, I swear.” Talk to Neil Young even, “My life’s an open book, you read it on the radio– we got nowhere to hide, we got nowhere to go, but If you still decide you want to take a ride, meet me at the wrecking ball.”

Here today we speak of John Mark McMillan, who has kindly decided to re-release his second album, “The Song Inside the Sounds of Breaking Down“ including two previously unreleased tracks. For those familiar, this is an exciting revisit to hearing a burgeoning singer/songwriter laying all his cards on the table– blood, sweat and tears intermingled. For newcomers, it is the same. Packed with intensity, emotion and a heart laid bare, it seemed that McMillan could hold his peace no longer in these tracks that burst forth from a ready pen and a fiery soul.

With a rock and roll beat and shredding guitar solos, John Mark belts out picturesque confessions:

I’m Mary Magdalene and tonight is a bottle of perfume..
There’s not enough dignity to keep me away from you.

Rolling notes and building crescendos in songs like “Closer” tear away at the ordinary with its startling plea, yelled within earshot of a culture sometimes uncomfortable giving name to a god, “Son of David, don’t pass me by, I am naked, I’m poor and I’m blind.”

Lines relay that amidst the destruction of failures, a love song can be heard, telling of a very personal love alleviating the burden of the life we’re bound to live.

In between the ashes and the flames
There’s a song that burns brighter
Than radio waves
About the remnants of my idols
And the shadow of my shame
About how they scatter like the rain and I can’t stop crying
Cause you won’t stop calling my name
Calling my name
Calling my name up from the ashes

John Mark McMillan shares with the listener secret sounds he dug deep to hear and play and sing. What he’d found in a place of abject poverty and personal passion was a song, a handful of songs. Songs that awaken, get our blood pumping, and cause us to shout, dance and sing, too. He shares a time of death and of life. A time to be born and a time to die. A time under the sun. And times above it.

-Holly Etchison, August 11, 2012