When an artist makes an abrupt style change, it's guaranteed that some fans will love it and others will abhor it. Sometimes whether the style change is brilliant or not, fans might have a hard time embracing a different sound and the band gets stuck in the middle. While artists like Steven Curtis Chapman, dc Talk, and Audio Adrenaline have all successfully pulled off major style changes at one time or another, it's relatively more difficult for artists like Supertones, Five Iron Frenzy, Eric Champion, Bride, Petra, and Guardian to change with the times and still be welcomed with open arms by friends. This Fall, the power pop trio ZOEgirl strips away the electronic sugar and spice to offer up the smoothest transition from pop to pop/rock since Rebecca St. James made the same move in the mid-nineties.
Ironically, speaking of Miss St. James, ZOEgirl has been using the same producer for all three studio albums -- the very same producer who oversaw the stylistic change that propelled St. James to stardom as well. So who better to pull it off than Tedd T.? With the opening sounds of the first track of Different Kind Of FREE, entitled "Beautiful Name," the changes in this group's sound is clear and will quickly remind some fans of Rebecca St. James' song "Pray" from her 1998 album. Chrissy, Alisa, and Kristin make the pop/rock sound very natural and they pull it off well here. Have you ever really wondered what Point of Grace might sound like if those girls had ever tried a pop/rock sound? Well, "You Get Me" is probably the closest we might ever get to finding out as the girls utilize their harmonizing talents to fuel this personal pop worship song. Lyrically, their honesty will hit home with any struggling Christian -- guy or girl -- as they sing, "I may be misunderstood 'cause I wouldn't ever fake it / You're the only One who understands my pain / 'Cause you get me / Doesn't matter what they do, what they think, what they say / At the end of the day I'm okay, anyway / 'Cause Lord, You get me..."
"Love Me For Me" is a heart-wrenchingly honest song about dealing with rejection. Many of us can relate to the delicate chorus, "Would you please tell me what I gotta be for you to want me... / 'Cause I am just trying to understand why you don't love me for me / (There is someone who loves you for you).".. Before the close of this pop tune, the girls offer up a message of hope to correct the feelings of rejection as it ends with "God is Someone who loves you for you." "Unbroken" is a pop/rock ballad that easily a highlight on Different Kind Of FREE, as it serves as a beautiful anthem for the broken and the freedom Christ brings through touching the hurting. "Wait" reflects more of the sound ZOEgirl has become known for while "Feel Alright" and "She" offer a mix of the styles and "Contagious" tosses in a funk-flavored feel. The title track is blends industrial pop/rock elements with even a rap moment to create a different kind of song for the ZOEgirls. The song acts as an anthem for salvation in Christ and is a catchy one at that. The album ends with "Life To Me," a contemplative and worshipful moment that ends the set as any intimate live worship performance would.
While ZOEgirl may not have drastically changed their sound, it'll be enough to pull in some new fans and familiar enough to please the current ones. The topics covered here on Different Kind Of FREE are sensitive and real. The girls are an open book as they tackle such subjects as loneliness and rejection and how the hope of our Savior remedies them. It's a different kind of sound for ZOEgirl, a more mature project that further proves that these girls are a pop force to be reckoned with and not just a couple more pretty faces in the crowd.- Review date: 9/18/03, written by John DiBiase
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