Reviewed by Tony Cummings
Long-time followers of CCM will be able to tell you that Phil Joel played bass on the Newsboys' best ever album, 1996's 'Take Me To Your Leader', and even sang lead on their "Entertaining Angels" hit. After he left Newsboys to concentrate on family and release two children's albums that showed music for kids COULD be musically excellent, he then formed his team, originally called Zealand Worship, and, with a 2015 EP, helped popularise "Good, Good Father". Now comes this truly effervescent album, and with Ben Garrett (guitar), Phil's cousin Roger Angove (bass) and Ben Bugna (drums), creates a sound which is fresh and vibrant, falling into neither of the predictable stereotypes of worship-by-numbers, seemingly demanded by America's Christian radio stations, nor lurching into the obscurity-for-its-own-sake lyrics of many hipster bands. Throughout, its lyrics are in your face, but never clichéd. Take the gem "Deeper Water" ("You've been shaking the trees/You've been burning the leaves/You've been breaking our rules/And we're okay with it/Take us to the deeper water/Falling headlong into your love"). Then there's the intimate "Sanctuary" which features harmonies from Joel's 17 year old daughter, Phynley, while the opening track "Spirit Sing" has a surging drive and more top-rate lyrics, "You spoke everything into motion/Echoing in anything that breathes/Your sound is stirring like the ocean/Whispering down deep inside of me/Oh, you make my spirit sing." There are songs here that if given the right exposure would get the world Church worshipping and. . . here's the rub. . . they are delivered with such production vitality that one or two would sound great on non-Christian radio. All in all, a masterly set.
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