Album Review :
Phil Joel - Playlist

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Artist: Phil Joel
Title: Playlist
Label: thedeliberatepeople records
Release Date: 1/24/12
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre

Tracklisting:

  1. Blue Sky
  2. Life is Crazy
  3. Wait For You
  4. Entertaining Angels (Acoustic)
  5. Changed
  6. Call Unto Me
  7. Beautiful Life
  8. God is Watching Over You
  9. Go Home
  10. You Belong to Me
  11. Every Knee
  12. Fallen in Love
  13. The Man You Want Me to Be
  14. Burning Down
  15. Peace
  16. Jealous

Best known for his involvement with the Newsboys during the late 90s and early 2000s before his departure in 2006, Phil Joel announced, after non-stop touring with the Newsboys, that he would be leaving the band to pursue a solo career. Also focusing on his ministry of ‘Deliberate People’ with his wife, one that encourages young people in their relationship with God; Phil has been able to record several albums over the span of 12 years, including some when he was in the Newsboys. After some time of not touring after his time with the Newsboys, Phil started again, this time as a bassist in Peter Furler’s band for WinterJam 2012. Phil has also released his best-of project, Playlist during January 2012, a collection of songs that have spoken the most to him over the length of his career. Featuring 3 brand new songs from an album in the works, scheduled to be released at the end of 2012; as well as a Newsboys ‘Entertaining Angels’ cover; Phil has been able to select music that covers a wide range of genres as he gives the listener a snapshot of his career. Listening to this album has encouraged me to purchase Phil’s individual albums, all the while gladly anticipating how his next album would sound like. Yet if it’s any indication after listening to ‘Wait For You’, ‘Life is Crazy’ or ‘Blue Sky’; listeners will certainly be in for another musical treat, the next album possibly being his most profound in his career!

Phil starts the album with all three of his new recordings, with the fourth being the famous Newsboys melody, ‘Entertaining Angels’. Rather than scattering these four tracks throughout the album, Phil has made a bold choice to place them all at the front, reminding listeners that new material is often the best way to engage listeners in a ‘greatest-hits’ album. Starting of the tracklisting is ‘Blue Sky’, a redemptive song about breaking out of old habits into a world of possibility as we realise that we were made for more than the mundane life. Littered with acoustics and strong keyboards, this little 3 minute tune brings hope wherever it is played, with Phil singing out ‘…I know you’re dreaming…of breaking out into the blue sky…it’s your time to fly…this could be your flight…’; giving us a wake-up call that we are all free in Christ, even though some of us are still in cages- like a bird in the nest worried about how our flights are going to be. ‘Wait For You’ is a hand clapping, feet stomping, percussion based song of hope, as Phil brings to light confronting issues, ‘…how many kingdoms have I built that have crumbled to the ground…’ where we realise that our lives are not about us, but all about Him. As we continue to soak in His presence and ‘…wait for You…’; we’ll be able to hear what He has been saying and not strive to do things on our own! ‘Life is Crazy’ is the last new recording, and showcases some of Phil’s acoustic bluesy swaying goodness as he delves into the issue that ‘…life is crazy, life is strange, the big world turns and we turn another page…’, and how we ought to continue to hold onto Christ as we ride the waves of everyday chaos. A fun-filled instrumental-driven melody, ‘Life is Crazy’ is a certain single from Phil that reminds us all that ‘…whatever may come will only make us stronger, if we keep holding onto You…’ Well done Phil for creating another favourite of mine!

The rest of the album provides the listener into a rollercoaster ride of truths, sometimes difficult to hear, as we take a glance into Phil’s colourful career filled with radio singles and hits that speak to the soul of the human condition. One of such highlights is Phil’s song ‘Changed’. Reminding me of how when we delve into our relationship with Christ, we become dead to ourselves and alive in Him, this is one of Phil’s most personal songs, showing the moment when he came to know Christ for himself. Through poignant lyrics ‘…from the graveyard of self, You have resurrected me…You have changed the way I do everything…’ I am able to soak in the fact that true sacrifice and devotion to God changes every aspect of our lives. ‘Every Knee’, ‘You Belong to Me’, ‘Call Unto Me’ and ‘Go Home’ all feature on this playlist from The New Normal, and all focus on God’s unending love for his creation, and how He is using any avenue available to gain our attention so we can come back to Him. With lyrics of hope as God calls back His creation towards Himself, ‘…call unto Me and I will show you marvellous things…’ (‘Call Unto Me’) ‘…I am yours and you are Mine, this is what you need to know in there uneasy times…’ (‘You Belong to Me’); Phil’s selection from The New Normal seems fitting on his new musical collection.

Along with ‘Changed’, which originally released on the album Deliberate People; comes ‘Burning Down’, a rock song devoted to the ‘burning’ down of me and the building up of Christ as we continue to die to ourselves everyday and make a conscious effort to follow the Lord. As Phil sings out ‘…the burning down of me, this is the cross I see…’, we understand his humbleness as he gives up everything to taste the Lord’s goodness. Both ‘Fallen in Love’ and ‘The Man You Want Me to Be’ are representatives from Bring it On, the album after his standout debut featuring ‘God is Watching Over You’, which speaks reassurance into our lives as we are reminded of a God who watches over us continually. ‘Fallen in Love’ and ‘The Man You Want Me To Be’ each show God’s awesomeness as Phil proclaims his devotion and love for his Father in heaven. Both prayerful and both acoustically driven, these two songs are certainly one of Phil’s best! Lastly is the sneaking in of the acoustic version of Newsboys’ classic, ‘Entertaining Angels’. Adding this in the line-up is golden; listening to Phil Joel sing it is even better. With the right mix of acoustics, passionate singing, and great reassuring lyrical moments, we get a glimpse into the Father’s heart, that even when one person comes to Christ, the angels rejoice in heaven. What a great rendition of one of my favourite Newsboys songs!

Overall: Phil Joel’s collection of songs takes the listener on an emotional journey through hopes and secrets revealed as we continue to make Jesus the focus of our lives. From the happy buzzing ‘Life is Crazy’ to the ever reminding ‘God is Watching Over You’, Phil Joel’s 16 song collection is a certain purchase for fans of Peter Furler and Paul Colman, as well as the old Newsboys (before Peter left!). Well done Phil for such a compelling and satisfying greatest hits collection!

RIYL: Peter Furler, Paul Colman, Paul Colman Trio, Grant Norsworthy

Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3

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