Zach Williams “Chain Breaker” Album Review

Zach Williams

Prime Cuts: Chain Breaker, Old Church Choir, So Good to Me

Once in a while, there's going to be one song that is going to grasp the hearts of many en masse.  Twenty years or so ago it was Darlene Zschech's "Shout to the Lord;" an overtly Christian song that was so powerful that all the contestants of American Idol decided to sing it together before presence of the entire globe.  Then there was Hillsong UNITED's "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" which spent an unprecedented 50 weeks at #1 on Billboard Top Christian Songs Chart; a song that has become the anthem of countless Christians.  Following suite is Zach Williams' song and this album's title cut "Chain Breaker."  The song has so far been glued to the pole position of the charts of iTunes, Amazon, and Apple Music, a fleet rarely accomplished by a Christian artist. 

Yet, one of the commonalities these three songs share is that all of them have a rhetoric that is universally appealing.  All three songs address issues intrinsic to the human condition: the primal cry for a transcendent God ("Shout to the Lord"), the urgent need for assurance in the face of fear ("Oceans"), and the perennial struggle of sin and addiction ("Chain Breaker"). 

With the humongous success of the song "Chain Breaker," fans have been impatiently demanding for the release of Williams' full length album.  Initially scheduled to be released on January 27th, Williams has recently announced that the current record is now available for download and streaming, with the release of the physical CD copies still adhering to the original date.  Williams is no novice: ever since he was very young, he had had been travelling with various bands playing various kinds of rock music.  Later, Williams felt the call of God where he settled down as the worship leader of Refuge Campus of Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

With his gruff and deeply Southern rock voice that resembles a cross between Bryan Adams and Johnny Cash, Williams certainly has a voice that commands attention and demonstrates gavitas. He is particularly convincing when he sings about how Jesus is the only one that break our nasty addictions on the pounding hit single "Chain Breaker," a song based on Williams' own personal struggles.  Then he goes Southern rockabilly on the ultra-catchy "Old Church Choir."   You can feel the wooden planks of a country church rattling as Williams rips into an ode to the joy of worship. 

"Song of Deliverance" further illustrates the rowdier side of Williams as he roars through this rocking piece.  Nevertheless, Williams' overindulgence does bear its head with a few shouting moments which can be off-putting to some. Williams can be raw and intense not only in his execution, but also in his words.  The lyrics of a song like "Fear is a Liar" need to be heeded.  Here Williams gets up, close and personal with how Satan often uses fear to discourage us that is particularly sobering.  

You could swear you were listening to Johnny Cash when you listen to the opening verse of "My Liberty."  The pulsating bass line and Williams echo-y stoic enunciation all calls to mind Johnny Cash in his prime.  Williams does get intimate and tender with the power ballads "Revival" and "Survivor."  Saving the best for last, the acoustic guitar driven "So Good to Me" is a thoughtful and personal prayer to God that is honest and moving.  With songs that speak right to the core of human soul, it's no wonder why Williams has been lighting up radio airwaves and getting his songs downloaded and streamed en masse.   



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