Back around 1980, I received two albums in the mail, not at the same time of course. They were by an artist from the northwest area of the country and his name was, as a matter of fact, it still is, Jeff Johnson. The names of the albums were “Lord, Please Forgive Us” & “The Anvil Of God’s Word”, these many years later I tend to forget which came first. It was Jeff’s third album “The Face Of The Deep” from 1982 that really caught my attention, though. One of the songs on the album was “All Hallows Eve” inspired by the book of the same name by author Charles Williams of the Inklings fame. I was hooked and have been ever since then.
Jeff’s music has always had a sense of intelligence running through it as far as the lyrical aspect is concerned. References as far flung as Vincent Van Gogh, Albert Camus, and Plato were common reference points. Musically the albums ranged from New Age, I hate that term, to instrumental to contemplative. Jeff worked on a number of albums along with “Night Noise” flutist Brian Dunning based on the writings of author Stephen Lawhead. These included the “Song Of Albion” trilogy, “Byzantium” and the “King Raven” series based on the legends of Robin Hood.
Sometime around the turn of the century, if I’m not mistaken, Jeff’s lyrical content took a turn from a literary based thought stream to what I would call more of a sacramental/ liturgical bent. Now, I am not a big fan of modern Christian worship music. I find most of it to be shallow lyrically and sonically to be a knockoff of what U2 was doing 30 years ago. Jeff’s spiritually oriented, for lack of a better term, albums are thoughtful, peaceful and actually give me hope for Christian music of this type. You probably won’t hear this stuff played in the average evangelical church on a Sunday morning, it is much too thought provoking for that. Every once in a while, Jeff will record with other artists such as the two studio projects that he released with guitarist Phil Keaggy. These two albums named “Frio Suite” and “Watersky” are nothing short of amazing. He has also recorded an instrumental/spoken word album called “Parables” with poet Scott Cairns which everyone needs to own.
For those of you who want more information on this exceptional artist check out his website and the video below.