Faithful Central

Faithful Central
Zion Rejoice

Like its church project predecessors, Zion Rejoice, from Faithful Central, is an energetic, 'get-up-off-your-feet' project that captures the essence of the congregational praise and worship.

CD As the latest such album to come under the Integrity Gospel umbrella, the Inglewood, California based church, pastored by Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, puts on disc a live-recorded set of 14 songs (plus reprises), featuring several high-profile soloists.

More importantly, however, the project finds a glorious praise pocket, and stays there the whole length of the album.

Joe Pace sits in the producer's chair for the album, and brings his experience into play with a diversity of sounds, ranging from full-choir jams to praise team numbers. A veteran band crew, including a now-expected full horn section, sets off the sound.

After an opening invocation from Bishop Ulmer, the album moves into "Welcome", lead soulfully by Warryn Campbell (who also serves as music director).

Zion Rejoice
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Jimmy Fisher rewrites "Great Is Thy Faithfulness", relying only minimally on the familiar version hymnbook version. Vincent Ciesielski's brass arrangements anchor the cut, adding oomph to an already powerful choir arrangement. Fisher is also featured on the upbeat call-and-response cut "I'm Standing", and on mellow, guitar-backed "Holy Holy Is The Lord".

Familiar words put to new music frequently allows the lyrics to come alive once more. That's what happens on "Open the Eyes of My Heart", the Integrity praise tune from Paul Baloche. Kurt Lykes' lead vocals stand out over the punctuated bandwork and choir overflows.

Daryl Coley steps in as guest soloist on "In The Place", his unmistakeable vocals marking the cut. Beginning with an impassioned 5-minute solo from Coley (accompanied only by piano), the song moves into the choir-backed version, which serves to emphasize the invitational lyrics of the Joe Pace piece.

On the title cut, "Zion Rejoice", Erica Campbell (Mary of Mary, Mary) guides Faithful Central's joyful praise into exalted territory, making it one of the album's high points at the same time. "We Sing Hallelujah", with its reliance on Latin rhythms and sizzling, pounding salsa groove.

You can't go wrong in adding Zion Rejoice to your church choir collection.

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Producer: Joe Pace
album release date: September 6, 2005
Integrity Gospel

— reviewed by Stan North

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