What strikes you immediately upon hearing singer-songwriter-keyboardist Jonathan McReynolds for the first time is his high tenor.
Gospel music is chock-a-block with men who can loft a few above the stave but are more comfortable maintaining a tessitura a couple of lines and spaces lower. McReynolds, on the other hand, has a distinctively fresh pop-fueled tenor that seems at ease in the upper atmosphere. While not as soaring as Roger Roberts and Carl Hall, and more like pop stars Bruno Mars and James Blunt, McReynolds nevertheless catches your attention.
The singer displays his craft on Life Music, a collection of songs that, save one, he either wrote or co-wrote. Lyrically, the selections are intimate, heartfelt conversations with God, and their soundtracks are gentle, easy, and contemporary.
One recurring theme on Life Music—it is the subject of “Lovin’ Me” and “Why”—is thanksgiving for blessings undeserved or, as McReynolds sings, with the proverbial “pimples on my face.” Another lesson is that God deserves the credit for our successes. McReynolds references this point on “I Made It,” asserting that when he gets rich and famous, he will remember that God is the reason for it all. Similarly, on “Smile,” McReynolds and duet partner Ashley Washington remind the listener to smile even when things are not so great, because God has already given you much.
“I Love You” is the current single and the best song on the album. Its brisk pop melody and apologetic for why the righteous praise out loud make it a contender for crossover to the Christian charts. Featuring Washington on “Smile” and Corey Barksdale on “Why” was well-conceived, as they are ideal vocal complements to McReynolds.
Life Music is exactly that: simple, common sense lessons for a better life.