11 22 Reason as reviewed by Phantom TollboothExtremely well-executed praise music that pays tribute to a life that impacted many, and benefits orphanages around the world.

12 Tracks /66 minutes

If this were just another worship disc, it would be a well-produced example of the genre that just added to the pile, but there is a deeper level to this.

The Florida-based Eleven22 is a worship band/movement with a strong youth appeal. One month after fifteen-year-old McKenzie Noelle Wilson dedicated her life to Christ at one of their events, she died. Yet it seems that she used this month to the full. The worship team heard many stories of her compassion and love for others. She led her parents to the Lord. She asked for money for her birthday, instead of presents, and donated it all to an orphanage.

Her life is the inspiration for this disc and may well be the reason that it sounds so passionate. Lyrically, it is typically "vertical," with little that is about practical living or other issues, but as the proceeds of the project will go to The McKenzie Noelle Foundation to put in practice her dream of building orphanages around the world, there is a tangible outwards benefit to the release. The foundation already has one orphanage built in Uganda.

Other tracks include lesser-used Delirious? works (“God in Heaven” and “Hands of Kindness”); Viola Grafström’s “We Bow Down” and the old hymn “It is Well.” The self-composed tracks that fill half of this collection stand up with most current worship songs – so melodically muscular, but with a tendency to use the usual clichés.  

Musically, The Reason is very much like early Passion recordings, with a clean, ringing, guitar-based and emotive production. Remarkably for a live release, it sounds both cleaner and more vibrant than recent studio albums by Paul Baloche and Ben Cantelon (whose “I’ve Found a Love,” which kicks off this collection, was found written in Wilson’s Bible). The vocalists and band are all confident and produce an energetic mood. The tremolo arm stays on the right side of being over-used and Johnny Rumbach’s bass is particularly strong.

Although I hesitate to recommend anything that puts more dollars on the floor next to the cash-hungry vacuum cleaner of the monolithic Hillsong Corporation (royalties for their “Love Like Fire”), I do think that if you only buy one worship album this year, this should be a lead contender.


Derek Walker