Not many CCM singers can claim they've been a Navy man, an American Idol contestant, and a worship pastor in one decade. However, the still relatively young Phil Stacey has indeed graced the service, the stage, and the screen with his personality and vocal skill. After his self-titled, country-tinged debut in 2008, Stacey signed to Reunion Records and prepared to take his musical style in a different direction. Into The Light is a collection of fully inspirational, well-written, and fairly original pop songs.
There's no twang here; acoustic guitars and songs about blue suede shoes are replaced by electric distortion and an uncanny sense for a catchy chorus. This is made clear within seconds, as "Inside Out" opens the album with an almost alternative-rock flavor. In fact, a great deal of Into The Light sounds like an odd mix of Jeremy Camp and Coldplay; "Sanctuary" features some wonderful piano notes in the background, and "You're Not Shaken" starts with slight electric percussion as well as reverberating guitar. Other standout tracks include the emotional "With All My Heart," the undoubtedly singable title track, and the patriotic "Old Glory."
While the instrumentation on Into The Light is tight and deftly produced, the real focus is on Phil Stacey's voice. Certainly, he didn't make it to the final six contestants of American Idol for no reason; Stacey has a set of pipes more than worthy of his genre. Even better, the somewhat forced country feel of his debut album is gone, and it's obvious that he's found his niche.
For the typical Adult Contemporary music lover, Into The Light will be a sure hit. For everyone else, though, there are enough elements of the genre to compel them to steer clear. This is by no means a fault, but for listeners who don't consider American Idol alums or Michael English to be among their favorite artists, Phil Stacey will most likely not become a favorite. The bottom line of Into The Light must be written from the perspective of his audience-- essentially, that a select group will most likely treasure it, while others may never give it a second thought. But, really, don't let that stop you. Into The Light even surprised this reviewer with unanticipated relevance to all types of music. Stacey's earnest lyrics and his way with the melodies might win you over as well.- Review date: 10/21/09, written by Garrett DeRossett of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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