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Liberating Praise
Posted February 06, 2018
By MarkRyan_NRT, Staff Reviewer

With their much anticipated first full-length album, Zealand Worship has delivered with Liberated. The album they have presented is a perfect mix of anthems, heartfelt cries of worship and prayerful meditations. It has been almost two years since Zealand, led by former Newsboys bassist and vocalist Phil Joel, released their inaugural EP. That EP whet the appetites of many fans, and what Phil and the gang have delivered is worth the wait.

Studio worship albums are difficult to do well. There isn't the natural atmosphere of the venue and the people in the audience lending itself to the richness of the project. But production on Liberated did not leave me feeling empty as some studio worship albums do. The richness of the basslines, the well-placed harmonies and the use of different instrumentation and orchestration add a fullness of sound to the project.

This stage is set early with "Spirit Sing." This song is a perfect introduction to the project, welcoming the listener in to sing along. It truly exalts the Spirit of a mighty God who causes our own spirits to sing. The title track, "Liberated," is a ministry song. It is an encouraging anthem that speaks of our freedom in Christ. It is reminiscent of the Newsboys classic "We Are Free," and I can easily see it added to Sunday morning worship sets.

"Deeper Water" is a song of surrender, a song declaring that we are okay with the work that God has been doing in our lives, inviting Him to take us into something deeper and more meaningful with Him. There are times in our lives that we might complain about the pain of life or the stretching that happens. This song thanks God for those things and encourages us to fall into the loving arms of a Father.

Perhaps one of the biggest lies we fall into as humans is the need to be something we're not. To find identity in likes, views, shares, retweets, followers and friends. To have an identity judged purely based on the filter we apply to our lives. With "Beloved," the lyrics declare who we are according to the One who created us, allowing us to declare whose we are along with who we are. This is a song that many of us will turn up loud and sing out at the top of our lungs.

Each song on this project has moments that make me smile. It weaves through emotions of joy and pain and offers songs for every season of life. In the busiest of seasons, "Still" and "Sanctuary" can be the songs we sing. In times of thankfulness, there is "Land of the Living,"  and for times of surrender and desperation there is "End of The World." 

The Bottom Line: Phil Joel and his Zealand Worship bandmates have given the Church a gift with Liberated, an album that will grow on you with each listen. Shut out the outside world and get alone with God and this album and let it speak to you.

For Fans Of: Newsboys, The City Harmonic

Song to Download Now
"End of the World" (Get it on iTunes here.)

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