Songwriters use metaphors all the time to convey emotions and ideas, yet it is near impossible to know how well listeners will connect with them. The image of Jesus as a chain breaker is resonating with listeners across the world, turning “Chain Breaker” into a hit single for Zach Williams and garnering publicity for his debut album of the same name.
The album leads off with that hit, highlighting Zach’s raspy voice, which is reminiscent of great male rock voices like Bryan Adams or Bruce Springsteen. A full band that includes several gospel singers support this energetic, radio-friendly song. “Chain Breaker” connects with the struggles and burden that so many people experience, pointing to Jesus as the one who has the power and desire to free us.
Perhaps it’s unfair to wish that the rest of the album connects as well as “Chain Breaker” does, but the other songs on the album are unable to match that quality and emotion. “Old Church Choir” brings the energy musically, but doesn’t connect on a deeper level lyrically. “Survivor” has a great story of redemption; however Williams’ voice does not have the raspy emotion it has in “Chain Breaker.” “To the Table” stands out with its strong vocal performance and simple musical arrangement. “Song of Deliverance” continues with the theme of redemption and brings up the metaphor of broken chains again. “Fear Is a Liar” speaks excellent truth about the harmful effect fear can have on our lives, but the song speaks a bit too directly to the listener, sounding more like a sermon than a pop song.
The album has moments of musical greatness, connecting with the listener in ways that few artists achieve. And still there are several songs that miss the mark slightly, leaving listeners unsure why they are craving more from his music.
Zach Williams has lots of experience in writing and performing music; he was the leader of the rock band Zach Williams and the Reformation from 2007 to 2012. With the hit “Chain Breaker,” he’ll have many more opportunities to bring his music to a wider audience. Time will tell if he can follow up with more moments of intense musical connection with listeners around the world. (Provident)