Thursday, March 8, 2012

Phillips, Craig & Dean: Breathe In Review

If there’s a CCM group that knows how to deliver relatable, worshipful music for their audience, it’s Phillips, Craig & Dean (PCD). Since the early 1990s, the dynamic trio has been releasing records full of Scripture-packed worship anthems that truly inspire and encourage the listener. Some of their well-known radio hits include “Mercy Came Running,” “Concert of the Age,” or “Crucified With Christ,” while their more recent singles “Revelation Song” and “When the Stars Burn Down” (their latest) have gone on to be added to church songbooks. 21 years into their career, PCD is releasing their latest project Breathe In. It’s clear that the ten-track project has PCD at their very best, not only vocally, but also lyrically and musically.

The high-energy “Great and Glorious” Is a fantastic opening for Breathe In, and hearing the three men unify their vocals in the emphatic chorus is quite refreshing, as are the futuristic sounding background vocals. Beginning with a haunting piano sound, “Our God Is Here” finds Phillips, Craig, and Dean changing the lyrics reminding us that God is always with us. It’s also uplifting to hear the powerful bridge pulled entirely from Psalm 27.

Deeply worshipful, “Great I Am” has many great elements, including the phenomenal vocals, gentle musical accompaniment, and heavenly lyrics – all making for a breathtaking track. The first single off Breathe In, titled “When the Stars Fall Down” follows. I had first heard this track, written by Jennie Lee Riddle, from Rebecca St. James and loved the softness and the contemplative lyrics of that great day when Jesus comes to take us home. Phillips, Craig, and Dean’s version is definitely more inspirational though, not only because of the pounding drums but also the combination of harmonies at once that accentuate the anointing in this track.

“Speechless” is a simple track expressing being in total awe at the goodness of God, while “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” takes on a slower piano scheme, but still contains a light drumbeat that helps make it both powerful, and the standout track off Breathe In. Through this track, we are reminded that Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price for our sins, but that we simply need to breathe in His mercy. This track is single-worthy, and I definitely hope to see it go to radio someday in the future.

“Great, Great God” is a simple but powerful track, and it’s great to hear from all three members of PCD singing their own parts through the verses and then joining in together through the pre-chorus and chorus sections. “I Choose to Believe” speaks of putting our faith in God even when we can’t see how He’s working, but is made all the more touching by closing with a verse of the hymn “’Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus.”

“These Bones,” based on the account of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37, has a slight country twist to it that makes it quite catchy. In addition, the harmonic repetition of the line “Gonna rise, gonna rise” in the background makes it a sure sing-along for the listener, and would no doubt be awesome to hear live in concert. The poignant “All Is Well” concludes the Breathe In album, having a sentiment similar to the hymn “It Is Well,” that no matter what goes wrong, we have Jesus and all is well. The heavenly closing is very inspirational – vocals, piano, and angelic backing vocals mixing together exceptionally well.

Breathe In is definitely Phillips, Craig & Dean’s most well thought out project to date. The awesome selection of tracks, their phenomenal vocals – better than ever – and the powerful messages that reach the heart and heal the broken make Breathe In an outstanding project of worship, thanksgiving, and love to our God.

Rating: 4.5/5
Release Date: March 13, 2012

Track listing:
1. Great and Glorious
2. Our God is Here
3. Great I Am
4. When the Stars Burn Down
5. Speechless
6. Tell Your Heart to Beat Again
7. Great, Great God
8. I Choose to Believe
9. These Bones
10. All Is Well

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