If you are, for any reason, sitting on the fence regarding whether or not to purchase John Millea’s latest release, Things New & Old, allow me to suggest that it’s more difficult to pick the right pair of socks. The decision to acquire this charmingly captivating album is a no-brainer. However, the album itself will definitely stimulate the thoughts, imaginations, and senses as listeners instinctively and organically connect with the manner in which Millea evaluates the various signposts, whether blatantly pivotal or seemingly mundane, of his own journey, and that of some biblical hall-of-famers, through the paradigm of God’s power to create and recalibrate.
It is said that a chain is as strong as its weakest link. This chain of tracks is sans Achilles heel. One of the heaviest-duty links, Lost Out to Sea, depicts, against a melodic backdrop that is delightfully seasoned with a pinch of Celtic flair, John’s hauntingly candid admission of hopelessness as solid ground appears to be worlds away. The turnaround is triggered by the acknowledgement of his need for the Captain – the One who can, unlike any other, navigate and even calm the most raging waves and lead the adrift to the safe shores of the Canaan land. Though there is a similarity in theme between this song and The Hound of Heaven, the latter stresses the Lord’s loving and compassionate proactivity in seeking to reunite with His wayward children.
Last, but not even close to least, Leaning on A Cane, the tune that could perhaps be considered Millea’s opus through this point in his career, is a template of lyrical craftsmanship that strikingly portrays one of the more encouraging stories of redemption in all of Holy Writ. In summarizing Jacob’s transition from the rear-lagging, ankle-grabbing man of guile to the victorious front man of God’s chosen nation, John wittily, though soberly, reminds his listeners that sometimes the Lord needs to strike a hip to save a soul.
John Millea’s walk with Jesus Christ began in earnest in 2001. He can testify firsthand how extensively the Savior is willing and able to cast away the destructive habits and fetters of old and restore anyone to newness of life. Since beginning this walk, John has sought to be a heavenly ambassador, and the Lord honored his yearning by granting him various opportunities to shine his newfound light to everyone around him. He gained training at a mission school in the Pacific Northwest, participated in multiple evangelistic efforts nationwide, and pastored a small church in northern Illinois. He remains grateful for these opportunities, though he won’t deny the phases of discouragement and conflict that peppered a significant portion of this decade-long period in official ministry. During the final stages of his pastorate, as certain personal challenges came to a head, music became not only a private haven, but an open window through which he could continue to advance the kingdom of God in a manner that truly burned in his viscera.
Millea engaged in different modes of manual labor to reinvigorate his physical and mental faculties, all the while writing, composing, and conducting concerts as time allowed. He often hears that James Taylor is his stylistic doppelgänger. John embraces the compliment, especially considering Taylor’s expansive skill set and pedigree, though he strives to infuse his work with more of an eternal import.
Millea is happily married to his lovely wife, Elisa, and they are expecting their first child, a daughter. He works with her and her parents on the family farm. Considering his acumen for identifying divine themes through the observation of his surroundings, there is little doubt that the agriculturally-undergirded lessons espoused in Scripture have struck John with a fresh impact. Outside the Bible, there is no better way to learn about Things New & Old than to survey the works of His mighty hands…and, of course, supplement that survey with the attainment of this new album ☺.
John Simon is a freelance writer and friend from Berrien Springs, MI