Steven Curtis Chapman is easily one of the most talented songwriters and vocalists around in Christian music. On September 21st, Chapman will release his fourteenth studio record, aptly titled All Things New. After removing himself from his comfortable Nashville surroundings, Chapman took the recording process to Los Angeles where he teamed with a variety of artists to help take his songwriting in a new and fresh direction.
Fans of Chapman will be more than pleased with what they hear on All Things New as he weaves together a refreshing twelve-track musical journey from start to finish. The album opens with a piano melody and electronic drum loop from the title track. Fans of Steven's later stuff might start feeling like he's softened a bit, but this fusion of sounds mixed with a slightly altered vocal style from Steven makes for a somewhat refreshed approach. While it may be a little reminiscent of past hits like "Not Home Yet," "All Things New" is different enough to feel new but familiar enough to keep the Chapman purists content and satisfied. As the song wraps up with a "Hallelujah" chorus, some may recognize the subtle vocal contributions from Lifehouse frontman Jason Wade who adds a nice touch to the track. Much of All Things New has a grand, almost theatrical aura. The record has a much more rich, sonic sound that is especially evident on songs like "Much Of You," "Big Story," "Coming Attractions," and "Only Getting Started."
"Only Getting Started" is a thick, textured, southern rock venture in the same vein as "The Walk" and "Rubber Meets The Road" from Signs Of Life, but displays a more modern approach. It may seem ironic to find such a song title on the fourteenth release from a veteran artist such as Steven Curtis Chapman. But this song, about the experience of getting to know Jesus through our walk with Him, is easily a highlight on the record, featuring fun and relevant lyrics, "I am only just beginning / I am only getting started to know You now / I'm only getting started / And when I start thinking I'm getting close to the end / You just smile at me and say: 'Hey kid, you ain't seen nothin' yet! I'm only getting started.'" The song stylistically fits in with Steven's All Thing New theme as he seems to be declaring to listeners that even at this point in the game, he's still got a lot to explore and offer musically.
"Last Day on Earth" is a contemplative and almost somber piano-driven ballad that stretches Steven's vocal abilities, reaching notes that would make Five For Fighting fans do a double take. Musically innovative, "Last Day On Earth" is a poignant track that offers up such powerful lyrics as "And if tomorrow comes to find me / Looking in the face of Jesus / Will I hear Him say the words 'well done'?" "Big Story" is a real treat that takes listeners back to The Beatles era via its string arrangement and vocal effects. "Believe Me Now" opens with an almost ethereal electric guitar riff that gives way to an anthemic pop/rock love song from God to us and features a brief duet with Third Day's Mac Powell before the song's close. "Angels Wish" is an emotional ballad that ponders the things angels have experience (like creation) that we could never imagine, yet we have been shown grace and love in a way the angels could never understand. An incredible song that showcases yet another different vocal approach for Chapman, reaching much higher notes than usual, "Angels Wish" offers lyrics that remain with the listener long after the song has ended, "And someday I'll sit down with my angel friends / Up in heaven / They'll tell me about creation / And I'll tell them a story about grace." A tribute to his daughter Emily, "I Believe In You," appropriately follows before the album ends with the equally impressive "Treasure Of Jesus."
All Things New may not be an extraordinary departure from Steven's previous projects, but it displays enough growth in every direction to be worthy of such a moniker. Steven Curtis Chapman has always been an artist to watch in Christian music. When his runaway hit "The Great Adventure" catapulted the young Kentucky man to stardom, Chapman could have taken the easy way out and followed a formula and ride the trendy waves to assure success. Instead, Chapman has never backed down from writing from his heart, and has never stopped seeking out different and unique ways to songwriting. All Things New is proof that Steven Curtis Chapman isn't finished yet. He continues to think outside the box and create relevant music for today that will last for years to come. I can't wait to see what Steven does next.
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