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Steven Curtis Chapman “Worship and Believe” Album Review

Steven Curtis Chapman

Prime Cuts: Who You Say We Are, More than Conquerors, We Believe

The accolades lauded on Steven Curtis Chapman are just staggering.  With 5 Grammy Awards and 58 GMA Dove Awards won, 10 million albums sold, 46 Christian #1 songs, and to say Chapman is a veteran is a mere understatement.  However, after 22 studio albums released, it's a surprise that Chapman hasn't released a worship album until now. "Worship and Believe" is thus a much anticipated endeavour as this is Chapman's first and foremost worship record.  Ardent fans who have grown to love Chapman's acoustic guitar based CCM pop need not fret as the album still bears all the licks and quips of a signature Chapman record.  Rather, what's different this time is twofold: first, the lyrics are all directly vertical up to God with lots of horizontal encouragements to engage with our Master and Friend. Second, the songs here are far more inviting cordially drawing us in to singalong with Chapman as he leads us in worship.

Helmed by Chapman and Brent Milligan, the 11-track record finds Chapman co-writing with Matt Maher, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, and members of Rend Collective. Even the drummer for One Direction makes an appearance on the album.  "Amen" is the first single to be released off the chute.  Chapman's guitar-driven crisp pop meets Rend Collective Celtic folkish campfire-esque roar, "Amen" is a fitting celebrative piece detailing the litanies of all that Christ has done for us on the Cross.  Avoiding any hint of smugness and coyness, "We Believe" is an anthemic proclamation of Chapman's unwavering trust in the major tenets of the evangelical faith, a track that is a close cousin to Hillsong Worship "This We Believe (The Creed)."    

With Chris Tomlin sharing the vocals and the song writing for "One True God," one is a tad disappointed as this heavy ballad bears anonymity within the extensive oeuvre of Tomlin's and Chapman's works. Much better is the piano-led "Who You Say We Are." In our culture, where we are often defined by the idols we associate with, be it wealth and success, "Who We Say We Are" rightly exhorts us to seek our identity in the fact that we are nothing without being loved by our Father.  Never one to be carried away by the latest trending tweets, "More than Conquerors" is a Scripturally-soaked song that takes Paul's words in Romans 8 and sets them to a hooky melodic pop tune.

However, one major discount for the record is that the better songs tend to be loaded at the front end of the record.  Towards the last third of the record, the songs tend to run its course.  Take a listen to "We Are Listening" and "More than Conquerors" back to back and you will hear that both songs are hauntingly similar.  Ditto with "Who You Say We Are" and "King of Love."  Such often is the flaw when singer-songwriters tend to horde the writing credits a tad too much.  Nevertheless, the majority is stellar.  Melodious, engaging, God-glorifying, and yet bearing all the sounds we have loved from Chapman.         

 

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