ZOEgirl turned in an impressive attempt at pop/rock with their 2003 record Different Kind Of FREE. Making the switch from positive electronic-fused pop to a more stripped down format was a daring move, and a smart one at that. Now a year and a half later, their follow-up Room To Breathe is as relevant and bold as ever.
Some producer changes are noticeable this time around. Tedd T. returns with a scarce three tracks while the rest of the album is split with Mark Heimerman, Shaun Shankel, and doubledutch. The end result is a diverse record stylistically. "Reason To Live" opens the album, a pop/rock anthem declaring life in Christ as our reason for living on earth. "Dead Serious" brings the trio back to their more synth-pop days with this catchy and bold statement of faith, while "About You" boasts a chorus that bears a slight resemblance to Avril's "Complicated," yet remains undeniably ZOE throughout. "Scream" is one of the album's finest moments, addressing the pain, neglect, and frustration many young women suffer in today's society. A delicate piano ballad with an emotionally charged vocal track, "Scream" cuts right to the heart.
"Forevermore" and "The Way You Love Me" show the more worshipful side of ZOEgirl with the latter being a beautiful exploration of our Father's love for His children. "Let It Out" and "Good Girl" are infectious anthems encouraging the weary to press on, while "Not The One" encourages girls to break off relationships with guys that merely pull them down. "Skin Deep" celebrates inner beauty vs. outer beauty, preceding the rock-charged ballad closer "Safe," which touches on the security that is found in our relationship with Jesus.
ZOEgirl has been a group that reaches the deepest part of their fans' lives, meeting them where they're at in ways few other artists can. And as these girls grow, the musical evolution of ZOEgirl is been a delight to watch. The power pop/rock threesome have another solid release with Room To Breathe that should please longtime fans and reassure young women everywhere that there is hope in times when hope seems anything but attainable.- Review date: 3/16/05, written by John DiBiase
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