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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

More Than This

  • reviewed by Christa Banister Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Apr
More Than This
Sounds like … worshipful lyrics set to a catchy pop/rock soundtrack similar to Vertical Horizon, Better Than Ezra or Matchbox Twenty. At a glance … there's a lot to like about More Than This, but it's the abundance of pop hooks that ultimately steal the show. Track Listing In the Way More Than This Now I Know Most High Greatest Reward This Heart of Mine When I'm Gone Light of the World Lay Me Down Wonderful Maker Surrender Susan

For anyone who's ever thought his/her family was a little left of center, try this story on for size: Before singer/songwriter Jon Abel's parents got married, his mom was a nun, and his dad was a monk for more than 20 years.

Pop music wasn't exactly part of Abel's childhood, and given his early career "ambitions," one wouldn't have guessed that music would be part of his future, either. "Being from South Louisiana, my plan was to get a job, maybe go to college, watch a lot of LSU football and eat as many crawfish as possible," Abel confesses. "However, like so many things in life, it's what you don't receive that takes you to where you never dreamed you'd go. In my case, it culminated at high school graduation"—when he hoped for a new used car to replace his dilapidated '82 Mustang. But his parents gave him a shiny new Ibanez guitar instead.

The gift seemed rather odd at the time, but after six months of working in engineering in the Atchafalaya swamp, Abel figured it was time for a new career direction. He enrolled at North Carolina's Montreat College, where he discovered a love for music and began to write songs. While his first gigs were playing in the dorms over late night coffee, it wasn't long before he was leading worship at the school's weekly chapel service.

After graduation, Abel worked in youth and college ministry, but couldn't shake his love for performing music. "From churches to camps, coffeehouses to bars, I played anywhere I thought I could connect," Abel says. "I felt my connection with audiences was natural, and I still absolutely love to be a part of that. But it's the nexus that happens between God and us that really keeps me playing, writing, traveling and doing what I do."

On More Than This, which features "Most High," a song Chris Tomlin covered during the Passion '06 gathering, it's clear that praise is the priority. Unlike a lot of today's worship offerings, however, Abel finds clever ways to convey these sentiments both lyrically, with his clever turns of phrase, and musically, performing with a roster of talented players who've worked with the likes of Michelle Branch, Matchbox Twenty, Vertical Horizon, Switchfoot, and The Doobie Brothers.

While there are certainly smart lyrics on the likes of "Now I Know," "This Heart of Mine" and the title track, the most captivating quality about Abel's work is his ear for a great pop hook—found in abundance on More Than This. I'm surprised he hasn't been signed already, because any of these songs would work well on Christian radio.

Signed or not, and radio or not, this guy's music is worth checking out.

For more information on Abel, check out www.jonabel.com or www.myspace.com/jonabel.

© Christa Banister, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.