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Nobody's Got It All Together

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 May
Nobody's Got It All Together
Sounds like … catchy acoustic pop reminiscent of Sheryl Crow, Amy Grant, and Carolyn Arends, with elements of folk like Sandra McCracken and Sara GrovesAt a glance … there's little here musically that hasn't been heard before on other similarly unassuming folk pop projects, but Phillips continues to mature in her songwriting craft with honesty and excellenceTrack Listing Nobody's Got It All Together By a Thread Square Peg Daily Bread Turn It Around The Middle Moving On Never Let Me Down Rise Above The Door I Am

She's spent the last eight years making music, and even once graced the cover of CCM, but Jill Phillips is one of those burgeoning talents that can't quite amass the following she deserves. Folk and acoustic pop isn't particularly en vogue with today's Christian radio, leaving record labels unsure how to effectively market it. But, in reality, artists like Phillips are usually better off keeping it simple by going independent. So after getting dropped twice by record labels, Phillips now releases her fourth effort through Square Peg Alliance, a Nashville-based support group of thirteen artists (and counting), which also includes husband Andy Gullahorn, Derek Webb, Andrew Peterson, and Andrew Osenga (Caedmon's Call).

Many of these friends appear on Phillips's intensely honest and personal Nobody's Got It All Together. "Square Peg" appropriately conveys the frustration of trying to fit in the Christian music scene despite best laid plans and the comfort of Jesus ("I've never understood their game/Much less how someone wins it"), while the somber folk of "Daily Bread" similarly reminds us that God ultimately provides amid uncertainty. Phillips wrestles with humility (the title track) and doubt ("By a Thread") with an acoustic pop style reminiscent of Sheryl Crow and Carolyn Arends, while "The Middle" sounds identical to Sara Groves with a wonderful piano ballad reflecting on the identity crisis of middle age. As the album progresses, this vulnerability gradually progresses into more hopeful songs like "Rise Above," "Never Let Me Down," and "I Am."

The songwriting is terrific, written with openness and excellence, but like many of her peers, Phillips's songs sound a little too unassuming here. Though definitely enjoyable folk-pop, the music lacks the "wow factor" to truly set it apart from other albums in the genre, or even Phillips's past work. Still, the same earthy simplicity that's sure to frustrate some will appeal to others. With Phillips continuing to mature in her artistic craft, this one remains firmly recommended to fans of the genre.

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