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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Steven Curtis Chapman
Steven Curtis Chapman has taken a lot of abuse from critics such as myself over the years for being the bland, middle of the road, “safe” choice in CCM the ultimate in cross marketing, being all things to all people, and lowering the standards for radio play. Like most artists who have achieved great popularity, he probably deserves very little of this criticism.
Through of all of this, a few things have remained constant: SCC is a pretty good songwriter who happens to write about God, sells millions of records, and spreads the word about overseas adoption. Personally, I would like to hear him do an all acoustic album, with a few of the edges and glitches left in, but then, that’s why Derek Webb exists.
All Things New is somewhat ironically titled, because the music here is absolutely trademark Chapman. The difference here is that since EMI purchased Sparrow, they can afford to bring in some big guns as guest stars. Jason Wade (Lifehouse) is featured on the title track. Matt Chamberlain drums on the entire album. Mac Powell (Third Day) contributes vocals on “Believe Me Now.” Most notable is the presence of guitar impresario Jonny Lang, who sings and plays a solo on “Only Getting Started.” The last is perhaps the closest Chapman has ever gotten to have a funk edge in one of his songs. (I refuse to consider “Got 2 B Tru”).
All of the songs have Scripture references detailing their inspiration, making the album an easy jumping off point for Bible study, a trend that would be more welcome in CCM (since the goal should be to direct the listener to God). “Last Day on Earth,” a Chris Rice-like piece, contemplates our existence and the importance for living in the moment, but with a long term perspective. “Please Only You” shows its protagonist battling against his own self-interest and ego.
Chapman has provided another steady, enjoyable album that will succeed due to its lack of an obvious single. Different songs will appeal to different artists, and his name will be enough to make them all hits. All Things New? Not in the sense of breaking new musical ground, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Brian A. Smith