Phillips, Craig & Dean “Above It All” Album Review

phillips, dean and craig

Prime Cuts: Voices from the Other Side, Let It Be Known, Jesus Only Jesus

Phillips, Craig & Dean (PCD)'s new album "Above It All" is as reliable and satisfying as meat and potatoes.  Just like their 13 preceding albums, "Above It All" is lyrically packed with enough spiritual carbohydrates ample to sustain us with its rich Biblical nourishments.  Given that all three members of PCD are all senior pastors of different churches, they have fine combed through the content of these 10 songs making sure that the songs are not only deeply imbedded in orthodoxy, but just a like a good sermon they have a relevancy that still speak volumes into our own walk with the Lord.  However, such consistency is also a double-edged sword.  On one hand, it's hard to fault these songs lyrically.  On the other hand, sonically nothing on this album really surprises or moves out of PCD's comfort zones.  Just like their countless proceedings, there's the fair share of big bombastic pop ballads formulaically balanced with by its share of chiming guitar driven pop blasters.

PCD have been a mainstay of contemporary Christian music since 1992 when they released eponymous debut album.  Over the years, they have had  serviced Christian radio and the church with songs such as "Turn Up the Radio," "Concert of the Ages," "My Praise," "Here I Am to Worship," and many others.  However, their biggest career high came when their album "Fearless" was released in 2009. The record sold over 10,000 copies during its first week and reached number 46 on Billboard 200, becoming the trio's highest-debuting album to date. The album's first single was "Revelation Song" reached number and stayed at the top for 11 weeks.  Later, "Revelation Song" earned the trio a Dove Award at the 2010 GMA Dove Awards for 'Worship Song of the Year', while "Fearless" earned the 'Inspirational Album of the Year' award.

Tim Hughes who gave PCD their big hit "Here I Am to Worship" shows up again with "Let It Be Known," a song that Worship Central and Lincoln Brewster have had also recorded.  However, within this triumvirate of covers, PCD's version is most conducive for congregational worship.  Featuring a ear-grabbing chorus that naturally invites us to sing alone, God's sovereign ways have never been catchier than on "Let It Be Known."  Though Brewster and Worship Central have had recoded their own versions, it is PCD's rendition that is not too high or strenuous for the average congregant to sing along with. Though producer Nathan Nockels has imbedded "High Above It All" in a modern slush of rhythmic guitars and pulsating base, the song has a nostalgic feel to it calling to mind some of PCD's earlier efforts.  "Jesus Only Jesus" is testimonial to PCD's longevity.  While many artists are reticent to be too Jesus besotted, "Jesus Only Jesus" gets to the very heart of why we worship donned with a fresh and engaging pop melodic hook.

You can't really get away from reviewing a PCD album without talking about the ballads.  One that will stop us in the tracks is "Voices from the Other Side."  Written right after Dean's dad passed away, "Voices from the Other Side" puts to music the Biblical admonition that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.  Jennie Lee Riddle who wrote PCD's biggest hit "Revelation Song," co-writes with Dean and his son Devin "If Not for Grace," a driving pop number that calls to mind the country-pop sounds of Rascal Flatts.  "Come as You Are," starts off nicely in thoughtful delivery and piano, but it gets far too cluttered and busy by the time the chorus hits.  And that seems to be the prevailing problem here with the ballads.

"Above It All," ticks many of the boxes we have come to expect from a PCD album.  Sound lyrics.  Effervescent melodies.  Bright sparkling production.  But conversely there's a predictability that prevents this set from rising above their former releases.



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