Mark Schultz is a master at crafting lyrics, telling small stories with big implications, theologizing in every day language, laying down pristine vocals, and musically precise tracks. His latest release All Things Possible has all that, and then some: it’s pure pop/rock exuding a retro-feel in a modern wrapper, or possibly vice versa.
As usual, Mark covers a lot of lyrical ground (From a child with an untreatable illness (“One Day,”) to a broken marriage and a shattered family rescued by love (“Love Walked In”), to hope in the face of desperate circumstances (“It is Well,” “Be Still”), to being shaped by the media’s expectations into a “fake” persona (“More to You Than This”)—of course there is also a revelation of God’s character (loving, faithful, forgiving, strong and mighty) and abundant hope throughout. Mark squeezes more lyrical content into one song, than some writers do in a whole album.
For the most part, All Things Possible follows modern rock’s obligatory course of intro with big swirling guitars, up close for the verse, kick it up with percussion, volume and background vocals on the chorus, pull back for a close-up, lower the volume and then ascend to a crescendoed ending. The title track (and radio single) could easily be adapted to congregational worship, as could its follow up “It Is Well” (both co-writes with Seth Mosley, the former including Tony Woods on writing credits). Most songs are more suited to personal listening although many of these songs have a place as featured music in the congregational setting with their encouraging/insightful focus and affirmation of God’s love and constancy.
Mark has said he usually composes his songs solo on a piano, and one longs for the intimacy that approach would imply in some of these songs. Certain tracks are comforting or encouraging, and the excessive musical accompaniment feels a little off the point. Of course there is a beautiful immediacy found in “I Will Love You Still,” speaking God’s unfathomable, unconditional love and forgiveness and the emotional power of “What Do You Give a King”—both perfect choices for a call to rededication or commitment to Christ.
More: More of Schultz’s fatherly and clear voice in “More to You Than This” offering both exhortation, encouragement and comfort to those confused and entrapped by culture’s message of presentational versus relational existence.
Less: Arrangement predictability. Less production, leaving room for raw emotion and sensitivity and exposing the exceptional lyrical content, less tying everything up with a bow.