I remember first hearing Phil Wickham's music back in 2003 and marveling at the way it didn't require overly-elaborate melody or convoluted lyrics to be powerful. Over the course of his first two albums, the young Mr. Wickham has proven he has a quality some of his contemporaries lack… his songs have got heart. Armed with a soul bent on worship, an arresting vibrato, and a collection of new tracks with plenty of both- his third album, Cannons, sounds off.
Cannons' opening shot takes the form of "Must I Wait"- a diverse and driving tune that leads into "After Your Heart"- the pair of which lyrically establish Phil's earnest desires for both his Savior's nearness, and to walk worthy of Him. "Jesus Lord of Heaven" returns, having not been heard since Phil's independently released first album, which is a treat for longtime fans. And of course, the title track itself boasts a resounding chorus that will no doubt find its way into a few Sunday morning services. But it may be the third track, "Desire" that encapsulates what this album's all about, declaring, "Jesus, if Your love's the fuel / Then I'm the desperate flame / That's screaming out Your name / My desire is burning like a million stars / And I keep reaching out, reaching out for You." That's the concept and the feel of almost every song. God is awesome, Phil adores Him, craves Him, is excited about Him, and thus he sings it out. This type of thematic lyricism is fine, especially when writing about the wonder and awesomeness of God, but… it may feel a little over-done.
The album just doesn't have many breaks to give the listener time to digest and really appreciate the emotion and heart of each song. I wish there were a few more narratives like the wonderful "True Love," to break up the pace. The guy is a worship leader at heart, and he's very adept at writing thoughtful idioms into what otherwise might be just another worship tune… but he's just as good at writing songs with less declaration and more exposition. Perhaps he'll explore that aspect in his future work.
There's no denying Wickham's talent with lyrical melodies. He's always had a knack for composing the type of choruses that just flow, staying with you long after hearing them. Phil doesn't really soar as much vocally as on his self-titled LP, which is fine as the new songs really never call for it. The album overall feels well-produced, perhaps a little overdone, but about what fans will expect. So, if you're looking for some nonstandard, Christ-centered music to drive to, read the Word to, or otherwise refocus your attention back toward heaven- by all means give Cannons a shot.- Review date: 10/1/07, written by David Goodman
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