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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Into the Light

  • Reviewed by Andrew Greer Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2009 25 Aug
Into the Light
Sounds like … the Top 40 tint of Newsboys and Tenth Avenue North with the pop/acoustic references of Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts At a glance … Stacey's first explicitly Christian CD is nothing new, but hard to resist Track Listing Inside Out It's Gotta Be Love Sanctuary You're Not Shaken One With All My Heart Into the Light Some Kind of Love Glorious Hard to Get Old Glory

Phil Stacey is one of music's favorite, and most sought-after, new artists. Which is a bit ironic considering his self-titled country debut, released last year was received mildly, and his famous stint on American Idol 6 was cut short by the season's stiff competition, namely his Christian compadres Jordin Sparks and Melinda Doolittle.?

But a quick glance at his TV appearance resume—The Tonight Show, Ellen, Larry King Live—makes it apparent that Stacey is not short on popularity, or personality. With a mile-wide grin, kind demeanor, and an honorable U.S. Navy career, he's just so likable. And winner or not, after performing for tens of millions of AI fanatics over the course of eleven weeks in 2007, the legitimately talented father, who famously missed his daughter's birth to audition, hardly needs help becoming a star.?

Now, Stacey makes his second "debut" with his first explicitly Christian CD, Into the Light. Both of his grandfathers and his father were pastors. Add Stacey's own ministerial badge as a former minister of music, and the preacher's kid is right at home vocalizing his devout faith through music.

Oscillating between tunes of encouragement and challenge, and songs that incorporate both, the ten-song set is as unashamedly Christian as its outspoken first single, "You're Not Shaken." Just check out the basic catechism of "Inside Out" or "Glorious" for a sermon in a song, a big plus in an industry whose spiritual premise becomes more and more vague as the years pass.

Having earned the support of some of Christian music's main business moguls, Stacey received five-star treatment, signing a major label deal with musical mentor Michael W. Smith's home base, Reunion Records, and touting production credits by hit-maker Brown Bannister (Amy Grant, Mandisa). As a result, Into the Light sounds big budget. It also sounds a bit typical. Aside from the alluring acoustic intimations of "Hard to Get," an excellent Rich Mullins' cover choice, and the hair-raising, patriotic piano/vocal finale, "Old Glory" (a surefire iTunes hit), most of the CD gets a bit banal. But its heavy pop production is bound to make substantial waves at radio, an important factor for an AI alum.

I suppose I just miss the charming pedal steel and fiddle turns of Stacey's country days. Don't get me wrong. Country. Pop. Whatever. The man has incredible pipes, and they carry this record from start to finish. But maybe next time we'll get the best of both his country past and pop present. Until then, Into the Light is a whole heap of Phil Stacey goodness.

Copyright © 2009 Andree Farias subject to licensing agreement with Christian Music Today. Click for reprint information.