Sunday, June 5, 2016

Phil Wickham's Latest Release is Full of Life

Phil Wickham
Phil Wickham (Fair Trade Services)
MUSIC REVIEW
Let’s pretend for a moment that your passion is singing and actually have built a singing about what you love and then comes along a threat that you might never be able to sing ever again. It would be devastating. Just ask Phil Wickham. He lived it.
 

In 2014, Wickham visited his doctor because of a nagging sore throat that wouldn’t go away. He could barely talk. After a few tests, the doctor found a vocal polyp that had to be removed. He would have to endure silence for a month as his throat would heal and then afterward, it would be a gamble on if the surgery scaring would do any permanent damage.
 

Though some may think of Wickham as a spiritual giant who could go through this new adventure without fear, it turns out that he is actually as human as the rest of us. “I was afraid for the future. It felt like my identity was being stripped away,” says Wickham. “I remember a few days after the diagnosis, I was on my knees asking God for some peace and clarity and a sense of Him in it all. All of the sudden I had this strong sense of God’s presence there with me. There have only been a few times in my life where I felt, undeniably, His voice speaking to me. This was one of them. I felt, undeniably, His voice speaking to me. He said my identity is not in what I do, but it’s in who He says I am. He said ‘I’m your father. You’re my child. Trust me.’”
 

Ironically, the whole episode help create the inspiration Wickham needed for writing his seventh album titled Children of God. On his website, he explains that up until that point, he really didn’t know what to write about.

“I started writing songs out of this reawakening in my heart,” he says. “I still didn’t know if I was going to be able to sing a whole record of them. But I had a freedom and a lightness in my heart. That’s why I called the record Children of God. The way I feel about the record, that excitement and freshness, I feel like it’s my first record all over again. I feel refreshed. I have a new sound and a new heart. I can’t wait to get on the road and play these songs.”
Fortunately for him (and us), the scaring on Wickham’s throat was minimal if any at all and was actually given the green light to speak a sing two weeks earlier than planned. After this time of uncertainty and silence, Phil Wickham’s album explodes with excitement. The first half of the album with its electronic sound and inspiring lyrics makes for great road trip music.
 

Children of God starts out mysteriously with a haunting version of the "Doxology" hymn and then turns to foot thumping “Better Than Life” and “Your Love Awakens Me.” It’s a unique sound that will make you want to dance and celebrate. It did for Phil. “I feel like my heart’s been reawakened to passion and purpose. That’s where the song came from,” Phil explains. “I definitely wanted the lyrics to be very communal in a way that wasn’t specific to my situation, but is specific to everyone’s situation who is going through something hard. The music coupled with the lyrics and celebrating God’s love and wanting more of Him – I hope that will inspire people.”
 

Wickham shares a duet with Madison Cunningham, “The Secret Place,” where you couldn’t find two voices that harmonize better. Together, their voices have a similar blending to the old school 2nd Chapter of Acts.  Then comes my favorite song on the album, Wide Awake, a dance tune that is so full of life that you might have to pull over and dance a bit on the side the side of the road. It has a sound that is both contemporary but is also reminiscent to dance music of the 80’s. At least it sounds that way to me.
 

The album slows down and finishes out with more thoughtful and quieter tunes, “As it is in Heaven” and “Spirit of God.”
 

Children of God is a complete album that has something for everyone. The music and lyrics has the sensibilities of a praise and worship album with a sound and style all of its own.
 

Phil Wickham's "Children of God"
The songs featured on Children of God include:
  • Doxology/Amen
  • Better Than Life
  • Your Love Awakens Me
  • The Secret Place
  • Wide Awake
  • My All in All
  • Starmaker
  • Children of God
  • Stand in Awe
  • Body Mind & Soul
  • As it is in Heaven
  • Spirit of God

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