Provident Label Group
Release Date: September 23rd 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Chain Breaker
- Old Church Choir
- Song of Deliverance
- To the Table
One of the surprise releases of this year, out of any album or EP release, I stumbled across this release by accident, and while I wasn’t looking for Zach Williams’ Chain Breaker EP, this collection of 5 songs have become some of my favourites of 2016 thus far, propelling this EP to become one of my favourites of the year. Zach moved from being in a mainstream rock band to pursuing a solo Christian music career after an encounter with God not too long ago. What resulted from a transformation of sorts is this collection of songs, and while I reckon Zach may not receive the same accolade as anyone else who is anybody else, like Crowder, Third Day or needtobreathe, I reckon Zach’s similarity musically and lyrically to these three aforementioned artists is what I reckon will be a great asset for his music going forward. Released on the same day as albums from Love & The Outcome (These are the Days) and Crowder (American Prodigal), it is Zach Williams’ EP that takes the cake and becomes the most unexpected release of 2016 thus far (closely followed by Tauren Wells’ Undefeated EP). A must have for anyone who enjoys Christian Country music; this is sure to be on repeat in my iTunes playlists for a while yet!
“Chain Breaker” debuted in May 2016, and while I didn’t really think that a song by a Christian country artist would take off as much as it really did, “Chain Breaker” nevertheless was a breakout hit of 2016, much to my initial thinking in May. So much so that the song was included on WOW Hits 2017 (again I thought the song choice was a little bit odd)…yet looking back on it now, Zach Williams’ inclusion on the best-of-the-best annual compilation is as deserving as any other song on WOW Hits 2017. A song featuring a gospel choir and Zach’s distinct southern-style voice a la Rhett Walker or Bear Rinehart; we are met with a heartfelt moment as Zach encourages us to surrender to the chain breaker, the One who can make us whole and mend all our hurts and hang-ups. With the song being of special significance to Zach, this 3:17 song is as poignant as it is catchy, despite how ‘short’ it is. As said by Zach himself; the song is a reminder of who God is, and is a melody whose goal is to ‘…reach people who had been struggling…it speaks to believers as much as it does to non-believers because we all get to places in our lives where we get lukewarm, and we just kind of forget what God’s done in our life. The song is very much the truths of who Jesus is…’ A song that I reckon will become one of next year’s most played tracks (sort of how like “You Are Loved” by Stars Go Dim was this year, and how it was released last year as a bonus track on WOW Hits 2016- and again this year in WOW Hits 2017); Zach’s new EP continues to impact and encourage with the remaining four tracks.
“Old Church Choir” is as gospel tinged as any other, as Zach places on this Kirk Franklin meets Third Day hat to deliver a tad under 3 minutes of solid worship-country goodness as the song encourages us to hold onto the fact that if we are in Christ Jesus, there is nothing that can steal away our joy we have found through what He has done for us. Driven by acoustic guitars, hand claps and a gospel choir, Zach has found what could be a potential radio single #2 with this track. “Song of Deliverance” is something out of a country tour set list as Zach delivers a song that could easily have been recorded by someone like Crowder, Third Day or needtobreathe, and listeners probably wouldn’t know the difference…that is a compliment to Zach by the way. “Song of Deliverance” is by far Zach’s most unique and out-of-the-box track on the EP, sort of like if “Chains” by Crowder and “Highway” by August Rain had a mashup, and the two songs meshed together to form a new one, it’ll be this track by Zach. “Song of Deliverance” is an encouragement to all, as Zach powerfully declares that I will ‘…sing a song of deliverance, I will lift my hands and drop these chains, walk out free in Jesus’ name…’, while it is “Revival” that offers a personal touch, as Zach delivers what could seem like an autobiographical account of how God grabbed a hold of Zach’s heart and showed him what it means to be overcome by revival, and what it looks like for God to start a revival in our hearts for Himself. While musically the song is somewhat more CCM than “Old Church Choir” or “Song of Deliverance”, “Revival” is an emotional track, and one that could be, if it is well received by the public, leapfrog everything else and become a radio single in the near future. The album finishes with “To The Table”, an acoustic and string filled melody that reminds us all that we are all welcome at the table of the Lord, that whatever we have, be it hurt, hope, triumph or trials, we can all bring it to the table, to be assured that all we have to do is just ‘…come on in, take your place, there’s no one who’s turned away, all you sinners, all you saints, come right in and find your grace…’
‘…I did the whole rock star thing for so long and I felt like I was always faking it, and now I really just want to be real with people. Please don’t wait another minute, make the decision today to follow Christ. I wished I would’ve done it 20 years ago. I wished I would’ve never gotten into drugs and alcohol and all that came with it. If you don’t know what you’re doing with your life then find a quiet place, fall down on your hands and knees, and ask God to come in and save your life. Surrender everything to Him. Jesus came and died on the cross so there would be a way for the chains of those struggles and addictions to be broken. If you have pain, He’s a pain taker, if you’re lost, He is the way maker, and if you’ve got chains, He’s the chain breaker. The first step is allowing Him to come in so He can set you free…’ Zach Williams’ first effort under Provident Label Group as a Christian artist is nothing short of unique, powerful and impacting as this EP shoots up my list of favourite EP’s of 2016, to be in the top 5. While Zach may not be as popular as any other Christian artist that is popular today, what Zach does have is raw honesty and heart. This EP is real, and each track I’m sure will speak to different people on different levels. And to say that “Chain Breaker” never made it on my list of three songs from the EP that are must-listens, it says the calibre of Zach and his music. An EP that’ll continuously be on repeat for the next few months, Zach ought to be commended for a fine effort on a project certain to be enjoyed by anyone who loves Christian music, country music or both!
3 songs to listen to: Song of Deliverance, Old Church Choir, Revival
RIYL: Third Day, Steve Grace, Crowder, Rhett Walker Band, needtobreathe