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Sounds like … the church praise-and-worship slant of gospel artists Joe Pace, Alvin Slaughter, Stephen Hurd, and Micah Stampley, set against a strong choral backdropAt a glance … as exhilarating as church albums get, this impressive live disc showcases the colorful, polyrhythmic sounds of this bustling faith community in L.ATrack ListingOpening PrayerWelcomeGreat Is Thy FaithfulnessWe've Come to WorshipI'm StandingSpoken WordOpen the Eyes of My HeartSpoken WordIn This Place (Solo)In This PlaceHallowed Be Thy NameIn This Place (Reprise)Holy Holy Is the LordSpoken WordWe Sing HallelujahSpoken WordZion RejoiceZion Rejoice (Reprise)
Integrity Music continues its mission to help people experience the manifest presence of God with Zion Rejoice, the latest live album from its Integrity Gospel arm. The setting is Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, California, drawing more than 15,000 congregants every week. This church extravaganza includes sermonettes from Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, the worship leadership of Jimmy Fisher and Kurk Lykes, the production and choir-directing expertise of Joe Pace, and a mean live band conducted by Warryn Campbell—yes, that Warryn Campbell, the longtime Mary Mary collaborator.
Campbell's wife Erica—half of Mary Mary—guests on the infectious title track, a festive choral celebration awash in vivacious horn arrangements. Just as lively is the get-up-off-yo-seat romp "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" (not the hymn) and the Latin-spiced "We Sing Hallelujah," the latter endowed with a handy how-to, tag-teaching listeners the song's harmony. Also noteworthy is the church's funkified take on "Open the Eyes of My Heart," which transforms the popular tune into an upbeat call-and-response.
Even as the church settles into more common worshipful material, Zion still impresses. The gentle call-to-worship "Welcome" is a definite highlight, as is the reverent "Holy Holy Is the Lord." The overdramatic "In This Place" inspires, even if Daryl Coley's rough vocal performance falters in spots. The only detail that perhaps will wear thin with repeated listens are the spoken word segments, but when production, arrangements, musicians, and vocalists are all in the right place, you quickly forget about them. Ultimately, it's Faithful Central itself—the choir, the church, the people—that remains the centerpiece to this big, memorable church experience.