Never for Nothing - CCM Record Reviews archive Z

ZACH WILLIAMS : Chain Breaker – Deluxe Edition. (Provident : 83061 10802 1)
A year after its initial release, this deluxe edition carries extra tracks due to the demand for Zach’s music. This Arkansas native has suffered many storms in his life, but he’s battled back thanks to God’s redeeming grace. I wasn’t sure that I was going to like the album at first, as Zach’s vocal delivery was so aggressive. But, has the tracks progressed, this southern rocker grew on me. Let’s get one thing clear about this album, it’s almost entirely made up of songs praising Jesus. Lyrics are straight to the point and that’s a real plus point. “Old Church Choir” is a really good pop song, and one that should gain lots of radio lay. Saying that, “Survivor” is even better. This time Zach tells of being rescued from the “grip of sin.” There’s more praise on “My Liberty,” while the ballad “Everything Changed” tells of Jesus casting out fears. If you like the sound of Third Day, then I think this will appeal to you. Fifteen tracks on offer, and some tasty ones too. 8/10. (June 2018)
ZACH WILLIAMS : Rescue Story. (Provident)
Zach Williams is back with his first single from his next album – “Rescue Story.” The song tells Zach’s testimony and will remind listeners that nothing they do will ever be greater than God’s grace because He sent his son to rescue us from all of our sins! Indeed, Zach begins the song with a vocal quality that cries to Jesus. “And now where would I be without you Where would I be? Jesus.” The song has a mid-tempo pace and builds with the added addition of some great backing. From that initial cry in his voice, Zach praises Jesus for all He has done. The result is a very personal song that I’m sure many of us will relate to. 8/10. (July 2019)
ZACH WILLIAMS : Rescue Story. (Essential)
The songs on this album are a reflection of where Williams' life was 20 years ago to now, to the moments and places that he didn't even realize God was involved. With renewed vision as an artist, a songwriter, and a performer, this album is the follow-up to the chart-topping “Chain Breaker.” When I heard the title track from this new recording, earlier this year, I really liked it. So, I was expecting more of the same. Zach encompasses a few musical styles with his songs, like the Bruno Marrs influenced “Stand Up.” It’s a funky sound, with plenty of brass sounds playing a prominent part. The opening “Walk With Me” tells that Zach had come to a point in his life when he gave his life to Christ. Basically, he had nothing to lose, but everything to gain. I wasn’t too keen on the soulful “Slave to Nothing.” In fact, I found the song to be very tiresome. The highlight comes mid-album, when Zach duets with Dolly Parton, on “There Was Jesus.” How many times have we all looked back on hardships and trials, only to realise that Jesus was with us all the way? I got through the first play of this album, making very few notes. A subsequent listen helped a little, but I’ve got to admit to being rather disappointed on the whole. The gospel song “Face to Face” is worth a positive mention, but I struggled with others. Sadly, I thought that “Chain Breaker” was much better. 5/10. (January 2020)
ZACH WILLIAMS I Don’t Want Christmas to End.   (Provident Label Group).  This is a collection of songs, some popular and some spiritual, with an upbeat feel and, if I can say politely, loud and proud presentation. Bluesy, rocky and full on production. Songs include White Christmas, Mary Did You Know and Run Run Rudolph. In places, the latter  reminded me of Bruce Springsteen. ‘Mary Did You Know’ took me by surprise. Usually, the song is performed gentle and reflectionary. But, not this version! Instead, it’s “in your face” rock. The same style continues with ‘Go Tell It On the Mountain,’ which also has a bass led riff. It is track 6 which starts to have a country rock sound – ‘That Spirit of Christmas.’ Zach’s vocals, throughout, are powerful and clear.
The production is very good, and the arrangements very full, including the backing vocals. I liked the jazz elements to ‘This Christmas,’ too. The title track reminded me of Bruce Hornsby in style, with its piano led sound, and open backing through the verse. There’s a nice blues guitar breaks and a cool solo. Overall, it’s a good CD, and I’m sure that Zach’s tour in the States will be fantastic this December. My lingering feeling is why? Why release this? I imagine he has a large following and they will love the release. Especially, if you are wanting a Christmas album that rocks. Some songs you will know and some you may not. It works well but, for me, while it serves both secular audiences and Christian, the truths are blurred by the mixture of songs. If it is a bit of fun and just meant as a good CD (which it is) then it achieves its aims. 8/10.   Noel Donaldson. (December 2021)
ZOE GIRL : With All of My Heart - The Greatest Hits. (Sparrow : SPD11572)
Zoegirl's self-titled debut album scored an impressive four Top 5 radio hits, back in 2000. Now, with more than a million albums sold world wide, the trio have released this "Greatest Hits" compilation. And, it's interesting to note just how the girl's music has changed over the years. From the sugary Steps type of disco, they've gone through a little Rnb, mellow pop, and edgy pop/rock. The dance feel comes through on "I Believe" and "Unchangeable", both singing the praises of our Lord. "About You" sees them move into Avril Lavigne type territory, and is quite a good song, too. "Dismissed" is the RnB number on offer, while "Beautiful Name" scores the highest with me. The song is quite rocky, and well produced. Zoe Girl make no apology about their approach as missionaries to today's youth culture, especially young girls, and this album should win them lots of new fans. 8/10. (May 2006)
ZOETIC : Worth It. (https://zoeticband.bandcamp.com)
Instrumentalist Kierstyn St. John and vocalist Emma Voron are Zoetic, a jazz pop fusion duo. They infuse modern pop music with jazz harmonies and their lyrics help others to think more deeply about their faith. "I wrote 'Worth It' when my singer, Emma, decided to quit her job in order to pursue music with me full time" explains Kierstyn. "We both felt that we needed to obey the Lord and His calling even if it meant financial instability. Since then, God has continually provided for our needs in amazing ways, and "Worth It" has been a testament to the truth that when we are obedient to the Lord's calling, He will supply all of our needs in Christ Jesus." Emma has a lovely voice that suits this sound, perfectly. Kierstyn’s instrumental work has a smooth feel to it, although there is a little “stop, start” production, early on, that I wasn’t keen on. Lyrically, things are fine, and tell the story of the girl’s calling to their music. It’s always nice to hear something a little different, and it’s a while since I heard any jazz fusion. Well worth a 7/10. (September 2021) Forward to the next archive
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