Room to Breathe

by: ZOEgirl

ZOEgirl's fourth studio effort follows the lead of 2003's Different Kind of Free, when the CCM trio adopted a modernist pop/rock sound similar to artists like Avril Lavigne or Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway LP. On Room to Breathe, ZOEgirl's Chrissy Conway, Alisa Girard, and Kristin Swinford also tie the self-confidence that's at least generally preached by their secular peers to a Christian message. "Forevermore" is a traditional worship song -- "Lift up your eyes to the One who reigns" -- but "Good Girl" puts a contemporary spin on that sentiment, acknowledging the social pressures to fit in but pointing to the Lord as a guide. "Not the One" is even more direct, turning the classic rebuff of a flashy suitor into an encouragement of abstinence. "Skin Deep" and "Dead Serious" follow suit, ably blending props to Jesus and shouts out to being strong with a load of crisp, harmony rich hooks. "Who's that girl with the Bible in her hands?" "Serious" asks sassily over a whizzing keyboard vamp. Remove the religious imagery, and it could be a sunny and swaggering jingle for a hip makeup line. The entire album showcases the voices of Conway, Girard, and Swinford, who support each other and trade leads with ease. And the songwriting is never bland, from "Safe"'s rousing rock chorus to the mellow shimmer of "Way You Love Me." But "Dead Serious" and the single "About You" are the likely best examples of ZOEgirl's stand-tall, pray-proud platform on Room to Breathe, because they effectively marry the trio's message to undeniable pop choruses. ~ Johnny Loftus

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