Album Spotlight: Phil Wickham, ‘I Believe (Hometown Version)’

Posted on Monday, May 27, 2024 by Lindsay Williams


Phil Wickham Reimagines GRAMMY-Nominated Album, ‘I Believe,’ With Special ‘Hometown Version’

When Phil Wickham released his high-energy collection, “I Believe,” last summer, the record was an immediate hit. Ready-made for his live shows, which have grown exponentially in the last few years, the explosive 14-track LP continued Wickham’s streak of No. 1 songs and even earned him a GRAMMY® nod for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album. 

Still buzzing from lead chart-topping single “This Is Our God” and its title-cut, which remains in steady rotation at radio, there was no need for a refresh. Yet, in true creative fashion, Wickham decided not to simply give his latest project a modest upgrade but to completely rerecord it from scratch. The result is “I Believe (Hometown Version),” a brand new rendering of the original, set against the backdrop of Wickham’s SoCal neighborhood.

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Washed in calming, neutral shades and shrouded in laidback West Coast vibes, “I Believe (Hometown Version)” differs from Wickham’s acclaimed acoustic offerings, which have followed previous efforts like clockwork and become something of a trademark for the singer. While an acoustic guitar is his instrument of choice, the record isn’t void of electronic elements, albeit toned down from its predecessor. In contrast to the former bright, commercial pop effort, the fresh iteration boasts sun-kissed hues of Pacific blue that reflect the good-natured ethos of Wickham’s breezy hometown of Encinitas, California. 

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Light, gentle instrumentation, subtle beats and layered vocals converge in a blurry mirage of salty air and sandy coastline. Slight melody changes evoke a sense of tranquility and even transform former fist-pumping anthems like “This Is Our God” into peaceful ballads and deep cuts like “Isn’t He Good” into moments fit for a bonfire on the beach.

The stripped-back production gives Wickham’s voice centerstage, reiterating what a phenomenal —and often underrated — vocalist he is. And while the Dove Award winner is best known for the numerous selections he’s contributed to the global church’s catalog, “I Believe (Hometown Version)” beautifully showcases what a poetic lyricist he’s always been.

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The collection’s lone new song and partial title track, “Hometown,” affirms this notion with lines that credit God as the ultimate Artist and a chorus that offers the lyric: “And You bring color to my life like a California sky.”

In addition to the all-new original, Wickham switches up the tracklisting, nixes all previous collaborations and omits “Holy Moment” — non-traditional choices that are as innovative as the singer himself.

In another unorthodox move, the hitmaker simultaneously dropped a “Devotional” audio experience that pairs every track on “I Believe (Hometown Version)” with a devotional personally delivered by Wickham. Both his recorded thoughts and the newly recorded songs themselves intentionally clear space for moments of quiet reflection. In fact, the father of four says when he returned to his home studio to excavate the project, he tried to imagine what these songs would sound like if they soundtracked simple daily rhythms like a morning sunrise, a freshly brewed cup of coffee or the sweet nightly ritual of tucking his kids into bed.

“I Believe (Hometown Version)” hits the mark, serving up a sampling of serene pop from an artist who continues to break uncharted ground because he’s constantly reaching for new heights and fresh colors with which to paint. As for the unique “Devotional” version, consider it a precursor to Wickham’s next book, “I Believe Devotional: 14 Days to Living a Life of Greater Faith,” now available for pre-order on his website.

Album SpotlightNew MusicPhil WickhamMusic News

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