|In today's musical climate, people aren't required to be masters of an instrument; if you have a decent computer and a keyboard, you can make something wonderful. (That's not a bad thing - it's just an observant fact.) Long gone are the days of one-track recordings and having vocals with perfect pitch, but there are some who've still got it. The duo that makes up The Project, Michael Glen Bell and Duane W.H. Arnold, are an example of artists that truly do have skill intact; and with their latest release, Mystic Chapel, it is justly on display.
The album opens with the instrumentally brooding "Prelude." The track carries a thematic sound of an approaching storm with accompanying dueling acoustic guitars. Changing directions abruptly is the upbeat and hopeful "Come Let Us Worship." It's not overly complex as it's mainly a call to worship the Lord who saves us from sin. The worshipful theme is carried throughout the album but rarely with the up-tempo sound. More often than not, the tracks lean toward a mid-tempo and methodical tone. "Death is Destroyed" is a fantastic example of this as it doesn't have an overt climax, but is engaging the entire length of the track. "From On High" is another model of a simple worship song of thankfulness for the completed work of Christ as Bell sings, "Glory to thee, oh Lord, our life and our resurrection." While they may not be groundbreaking lyrics, no one is singing lines in this musical style anymore.
The album concludes in a two-fold manner, first with "Holy Father" and then "Postlude." The former song is essentially a sweet "amen," acknowledging the authority and graciousness of the Father. The latter is essentially a refrain of the first track, but this time with a more peaceful undertone--as if worship gives perspective in the midst of a storm. Whether that was the goal or not, I'm unsure, but as a critic and music-lover that's how I interpret it.
Overall, Mystic Chapel is a solid release; however, some listeners still may not feel the overtly retro vibes. Thankfully, that doesn't determine the substance. Fans of 70's artists like Paul Simon, Bread, Zager & Evans or the acoustic musings of George Harrison might find the band's sound gripping. There really aren't many, if any, contemporaries to compare the group to, which makes them a gem of a group (but they may not have as large of coverage as others). Nevertheless, Mystic Chapel is a testament to the musical fortitude of the band and their commitment to continue making excellent quality music.- Review date: 4/6/16, written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com