Phil Joel first made an impression with his solo material when he debuted Watching Over You in 2000. The album produced a hit single that helped spawn a follow-up release, the less memorable but still decent sophomore effort Bring It On, in 2002. Since its release, Joel has focused mostly on his duties as bassist/co-vocalist for Newsboys and, more recently, has developed his own side ministry. "deliberatePeople." is a new project Joel has developed with his wife Heather to help fellow believers who want to be more serious about their Bible reading and study, but have trouble with disciplining themselves to really dig into the Word. In addition to releasing a journal for deliberatePeople, Phil has also independently released his third solo effort in conjunction with the ministry, the deliberatePeople. album.
Fans of Joel's first two albums may be surprised by what they hear on the deliberatePeople. album. Complimenting the devotion and focus of his new ministry, the dP. album is Joel's most serious and mature songwriting to date. Opening with the reflective "Time Alone," a rock song that ponders the importance of quality time with God, the more mature tone is set right away. "Desperate," a longing to stay in a sense of need for Jesus by appreciating the hard times, incorporates an acoustic almost-folk guitar with a modest piano that trickles through the track. As the listener travels through the album's journey of spiritual growth, it's evident from song to song that Joel has truly channeled his passion and heart effectively through word and music alike better than ever. In fact, it's tracks like the piano-driven worshipful ballad "Awe" that can reach moments that are just so beautiful. Joel delivers the dP. album like a musical devotional, creating a worshipful atmosphere that is more intimate and personal than most modern worship fare.
Phil includes a stripped-down reinvisioning of "Return" from Bring It On that proves just how crucial production can be in establishing the feel for a record. Phil's own straightforward production work on the dP. album helps make the songs that much more intimate, while previous efforts suffered slightly from over-polishing.
The album ends on a perfect note with another highlight, Joel's heartfelt ballad, "Jealous." Phil begins the song from the perspective of the Father speaking to His children, inviting us to come to Him and asking us for exclusive devotion. The second half of the song is a passionate cry of surrender that closes the album out on a stirring note.
Phil Joel turns in his best work to date by far with the deliberatePeople. album. A fantastic, inspired album that accomplishes more effectively what higher-profile worship leaders set out to do and miss in the longrun. A diverse release that offers a fair mix of upbeat rock tracks with contemplative and sensitive ballads, the deliberatePeople. album is one of this Fall's most pleasant surprises.- Review date: 11/17/05, written by John DiBiase
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