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Phil Wickham

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Apr
Phil Wickham
Sounds like … the sort of rich alternative pop/rock that characterizes Jason Morant, Jeff Buckley, and Robbie Seay Band, with a stunning vocal that recalls both Bono and Rufus WainwrightAt a glance … though Wickham could stand to deepen and develop his lyricism in time, he still makes an impressive debut by offering introspective worship with style, production, and performanceTrack Listing Grace Messiah Mystery Divine Romance Yours Alone I Will Wait for You There I Adore You Always Forever Crumble to Pieces Fall Into You Holy Holy Holy

Though Phil Wickham was raised in a strongly Christian home, he felt the need to make his faith his own back in junior high. So he began leading worship for his youth group at the age of 12, and in time started writing original songs that reflected his personal journey of faith. Touring his home state of California and recording an independent album eventually led the 21-year-old to pursue a full-time music career, becoming the second artist to sign with Bart Millard's Simple Records.

Wickahm's self-titled debut was produced by label co-founder Peter Kipley (MercyMe), and the first thing that stands out is the guy's stunning tenor, combining the beautiful richness of Jeff Buckley and Jason Mraz with the soaring passion of Bono or Kevin Max. Those familiar with Jason Morant's 2004 debut Abandon will find Wickham extremely similar in style—anthemic like Coldplay or U2, yet atmospheric like Buckley or Robbie Seay Band.

Some tracks are worshipful in tone ("Always Forever," "I Adore You"), but most play out more like love songs to the Lord straight from a musical prayer journal. "Mystery" and "I Will Wait for You There" are mesmerizing reflections searching for God's voice and understanding his will, while "Grace" and "Messiah" make catchy rockers that marvel over mercy and forgiveness. And believe it or not, the piano waltz "Holy Holy Holy" resembles Rufus Wainwright crooning some of Scripture's most evocative imagery of God's glory.

Wickham admits he's no storyteller, but if there's to be growth as an artist, he'll need to deepen his lyricism beyond honest, yet simplistic sentiments like "My life is Yours" and "You are the air I breathe." Still, there are flashes of poetic expression amidst the overly straightforward wording, and that remarkable voice goes a long way to in convincing the listener that every word is true. Considering this artist's age and talent (he plays most of the album's instruments), it'll be a pleasure to watch Phil Wickham develop from an already impressive debut for years to come.

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