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Monday, August 24, 2009

Phil Stacey CD Review: So Good It Almost Hurts

For me, a song is a good one when it makes me break out into a smile.

But with Phil Stacey’s new CD, “Into the Light,” I smiled so much it almost hurt…

You guys know that I am already a big Phil fan, and this CD just cements that. It’s always great to see and/or hear someone doing what they are meant to do. And even though I enjoyed Phil’s country CD, Christian music is truly his calling—especially when he conveys his message in such a beautiful way.

As I’ve said before, sometimes you just need something relentlessly cheerful, and that’s how I would describe the beginning of “Light.” With the catchy chorus of “From the inside out/From the outside in/Let Your truth and Your grace change me/From the man I am and have always been/To the man that You want me to be” the album opener, “Inside Out,” hooks you instantly. And you’ll be hooked right through the slower “It’s Gotta Be Love,” the fantastic “Sanctuary,” which shows off some vocal acrobatics and the rockier “You’re Not Shaken,” which Phil co-wrote.

I was enjoying the upbeat stuff so much that I got a little concerned when the album hit its first real power ballad. That is until I realized it was the beyond gorgeous, “One,” another Phil co-write. With a chorus like “One drop in the ocean/One prayer from your heart/One mercy, one struggle/One cup of cold water/One dollar, one promise/Even though it seems small/Sometimes One is the biggest thing of all” combined with Phil’s gorgeous soaring voice, how could you possibly go wrong?

Sometimes Christian CDs can lose a little something musically when they strengthen their message, but that’s not the case here. When Phil goes the worship song route with “With All My Heart,” it works beautifully. The title track, “Into the Light” has a strong message as well, but the sound is as pop as it gets—and that’s a good thing. That pop sound continues with another Phil co-write, “Some Kind of Love,” which reminds me of a classic 80s tune from Go West or Johnny Hates Jazz (and I mean that as a big compliment). But not to worry, we get one more soaring chorus with “Glorious,” which Phil also co-wrote.

Then, it’s the song I would call the CD’s only misstep—and it’s only a slight one—the Rich Mullins tune “Hard to Get.” It’s a good song, but the arrangement is just a touch too country for my taste.

Phil closes out the CD with his concert crowd pleaser (that he wrote on his own), “Old Glory,” and it sounds just as gorgeous as ever.

Phil has such an amazing pop voice so it’s great to hear him be able to use it in such a positive way. It may just be my imagination, but I think I can hear a happier, more confident Phil on this album. And I couldn’t be happier about that.

There goes that smile again…

“Into the Light” hits stores Tuesday, August 25th…

Photo Credit: Reunion Records