My standard for good music is, “What can I do while listening to it?” Acoustic Hymns Project strikes me as something you put on at 8:30 p.m. as you reflect on a day lived more or less with God. The album by Johnny Markin, worship pastor at Northview Community Church in Abbotsford, B.C., can either dictate or reflect a mood of peace.
While all the tracks are instrumental versions of familiar hymns, they are not all slow to mid-tempo in pace.
The album goes from more upbeat at the beginning to slower at the end. The instrumentation, performance, and production are all top-notch. Fans of Steve Bell or of Rich Mullins’ later work will find familiar comfort here. While the other instruments are excellent in their supportive role, the guitar work stands out. Guitar players especially will appreciate the tracking information listed in the liner notes.
I wondered at a version of the doxology (“Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow”), attempted not just instrumentally, but also at a more upbeat tempo. Compared to the church basement a cappella potluck blessing most of us might know, this is a gusty attempt, but also expects much from the listener. At other times, the tempos are slower than I’d expect, on “Here Is Love” and “Nothing But the Blood” for example. These tempo variations will be a matter of taste.
The album takes the listener into territory that is both adventurous and reassuring at the same time, and the payoff is well worth the trip. Album highlights include “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” “Take My Life and Let It Be,” and “Amazing Grace,” which comprise four of the middle songs on the eleven-track album.
Acoustic Hymns Project can be purchased at johnnymarkin.com.