Former Newsboys band member Phil Joel releases his new solo album 'Better Than I Found It' on January 22nd. Since the release of his first solo project in 2000 a lot has changed, but what hasn’t changed is Phil's commitment to creating thought provoking, melodic songs for listeners who like to listen beyond the sound.
'Better Than I Found It' is a compelling collection of songs from this New Zealand born singer songwriter, recorded in his backyard home studio during the quarantine, that make statements of unity and love, encouraging us all to take better care of ourselves, our fellow man and the planet. The production along with the songwriting is simple yet rich and has retro elements that would make even John Lennon smile.
Phil’s musical start took off in high school in the underground Kiwi band, Drinkwater, touring their homeland of New Zealand for a few years and gaining some local traction. Later on, broke and sleeping on a friend’s couch, Phil got a 3am phone call one Friday morning that changed the course of his life forever. Within 36 hours he was on a flight to Los Angeles to begin touring the world with Newsboys. After playing a part in the writing and singing some of Newsboys biggest hits such as “Entertaining Angels” and “Woohoo,” Phil signed with Inpop Records as a solo artist and hit the ground running with his first release, Watching Over You, touring with Earthsuit (now Mutemath) and Katy Hudson (now Katy Perry) as opening acts.
In 2002, while still touring and writing full time with Newsboys along with being a husband and new father, Phil released his second solo album, Bring it On. The juggling of all of these roles led to the decision to put the solo touring and recording on hold. “I realized I could do it all, but just not all at once.” It would be another four years before he began writing and recording for another solo project, the deliberatePeople. album. At the end of 2006, Phil decided to step away from Newsboys to maintain a balanced family life, solo career and touring schedule.
The years that followed were creatively diverse as he toured and got to truly know and love middle America, releasing two more solo albums, The New Normal and Playlist, two kids projects, deliberateKids 1&2, and also starting a new band, Zealand, which signed to Word records and released two projects. In 2018 he was asked to once again hit the stage with Newsboys and tour as Newsboys United. Zealand was asked to be the opening act - thus the whirlwind began once again.
“It wasn’t until the beginning of 2020 and the Covid shutdowns that I started to realize it was time to refocus on being a solo artist. So after being forced off the road I began working on new music in my home studio.”
When asked about creative influences Phil responds “I guess my influences are somewhat international being that my favorite song writers are from all corners of the globe like Neil Finn and Dave Dobbyn of New Zealand, British legends like David Gray and Richard Ashcroft, and then of course there is Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, based in San Diego - the guy’s a lyrical and melodic machine. And I can’t forget the Irishman, Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol -he’s amazing.”
“Writing and tracking these songs has given me a fresh excitement about making music and I feel like I’m starting all over again.”