|A Truly Eclectic Playlist | Posted February 12, 2012
It’s hard to believe it’s been half a decade since the spirited bass player for the Newsboys, Phil Joel, announced his sudden departure from the group back in 2007. The decision was two-pronged, as he wanted to pursue a solo career as well as focus on the ministry he founded with his wife, Heather, called Deliberate People. It’s a ministry that encourages believers to be deliberate in their daily relationship with God.
In the five years since his exit, Phil has released two highly acclaimed children’s albums, as well as the under-the-radar The New Normal. Still, without any press or frequent touring in recent years (much understood after traveling the globe non-stop for over a decade) many who followed the band started to wonder if he’d fallen off the face of the planet.
To the delight of fans young and old, the long-locked rocker from New Zealand recently made his grand return to the CCM world earlier this year, joining fellow former Newsboy, Peter Furler, on his run on the 2012 Winter Jam tour. While Phil Joel back at it on the bass would have been enough of reason to celebrate, after a brief hiatus, Phil’s voice emerged once again with his quietly released compilation album, Playlist.
Playlist is a unique record in that it’s not a greatest hits collection, but it’s not a new studio project either. “Rather than simply pre-releasing an EP of new songs from the CD I’ve been working on” he explains, “I thought it might be fun to add a ‘playlist’ of songs from previous albums. These tunes, both new and not-so-new, are my testimony of God’s love and faithfulness.”
Coming as a musical journey of faith and redemption, the album starts off with the brand new “Blue Sky,” talking about breaking out of ruts and living your life to the fullest. “Life Is Crazy” is infectiously catchy and could very well be a radio hit. It sends an honest message of how no life is perfect, but how in it all, God uses our weaknesses for His glory.
The eclectic “Wait For You” is a thought-provoking ballad about the kingdoms we like to build on Earth, and how we as believers need to be set our minds on things above. Coming as a welcomed surprise is an acoustic take on Newsboys hit “Entertaining Angels,” complete with chilling strings and yet more stirring vocals. It’s been hot minute since fans have heard Phil sing this song; it’s great to hear his voice making it fresh again.
From this point forward on the project, we’re met with a 12-song collection of hits and favorites from Phil’s previous four projects, starting with the well-known, “Changed.” That song is his own personal testimony of how God took him from a nearly backslidden relationship several years back and gave him a deliberate passion to seek after Him daily, changing everything about his life from that point on.
“God Is Watching Over You”, “Jealous”, “You Belong To Me”, “Fallen In Love” and “Beautiful Life” are just some of the favorite you’ll find on this record, as well as my personal favorite, “The Man You Want Me To Be,” written after his daughter’s birth as a cry unto God to help him become all he needs to be for his family. Ten years after it’s release, it still stands up to current trends. Lyrically stunning, its whimsical melody only takes Joel to a whole new level of creativity.
Because Phil is forthright on his dislike for social media, and fact that he’s technically considered an indie artist, it’s a shame that his last several albums haven’t received the attention they deserve. His style is truly undefined. While musically quirky, his transparent lyrics steal the show. They make you seriously consider how deliberate you’re being in your own walk with God.
That being said, Playlist a perfect representation of who Phil Joel is, as both a man and a musician. From his pop roots with Newsboys to his solo appreciation for breathy melodics, not one of his songs sounds alike. Playlist perfectly showcases his spiritual maturation, chronicling Phil’s journey from being someone who was desperate to change, to someone who has. Whether you’re someone who has yet to discover Phil Joel’s music, or if you’re falling in love with him all over again, this is a solid project and only whets fans’ appetites even more for his long-awaited studio project. If it’s anywhere near the quality of this album, we certainly won’t be disappointed.
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