Saturday, October 19, 2013

Music Review: The Glorious Unfolding by Steven Curtis Chapman

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Songs of encouragement and hope
Cons: “Michael and Maria,” last few songs run together
The Bottom Line:
Songs to life spirits
No matter what your challenge
Classic Steven sound

Steven Curtis Chapman Shines Light on the Hope of the Glorious Unfolding

It’s been a number of years since Steven Curtis Chapman released a new CD of regular music.  A lot of that has had to do with him coming to terms with the tragedy in his life of his daughter’s fatal accident.  But the lessons he has learned come through loud and clear in this, his eighteenth studio recording, The Glorious Unfolding.

If there is one message that comes through in this disc, it is hope.  Steven sings time and time again about how God will take any situation and circumstance and work through it.  At times, I get the feeling that these truths are meant as much for him as us.  But I’m okay with that.  I find lessons from someone who still struggles much easier to accept than lessons from someone who has something like this mastered.

If you are at all familiar with Steven’s music, you pretty much know what to expect here.  We’ve got guitar based pop with some piano based songs thrown in for good measure.  We never get beyond mid-tempo on this disc, but it’s only at the end where the songs blend together at all.

The disc opens with the title track, a souring anthem that reminds us that what we are facing is not God’s final word in our lives.  Instead, it is part of a much bigger picture.

Our response to knowing God is still working in dark times is to “Take Another Step.”  This song draws a parallel involving a marching band on a day that goes from sunlight to darkness and reminds us to keep marching.  The beat on this one makes it a steady marching song as well, and the call to faith is great.  Admittedly the chorus is very simple, and at first I didn’t like the song because of that, but after a few listens, I really grew to like it.

There are some songs that fall outside of the main theme, like “Love Take Me Over.”  This is a call to action to spread God’s love to others, and yet it acknowledges that we need to let God fill us up before we can fill up others with his love.  This is also the first single and a fun pop song.

“Only One and Only You” is a song written for his middle school daughter to remind her how special she is despite what she sees in the mirror.  It’s a very melodic song although the rhythm takes a couple listens to fully appreciate.

Then there’s the latest song written for his wife Mary Beth.  "Together" a wonderful testament to their 29 year marriage and how God has helped them weather all that life throws at you.  It gives full honor to God for it, but it also talks in general terms about the good and bad in life.  The piano and strings on this song are beautiful together.

Speaking of the bad you experience in life, there are two songs about people he’s lost in recent years.  Of these, I prefer “See You in a Little While,” a song to his grandmother.  It focuses on the hope of Heaven and being reunited with those we love there.  It’s a light, mid-tempo song.  On the other hand, there’s “Michael and Maria.”  This one focuses a bit more on loss, and it feels slower although I don’t think it is that much slower than the first.  Frankly, I think this one could have been left off.  Either that, or at least fill us in on who Michael is (assuming Maria is his daughter, of course).

As I mentioned earlier, the last few songs are also a drag on the CD.  They are slow tempoed and run together a bit.  It’s a shame because there are some good songs individually, like “Feet of Jesus.”

Still, overall this fan is happy to have some new music from Steven Curtis Chapman.  Like many of his other projects, I know I’ll be listening to The Glorious Unfolding for years to come.

CD Length: 47:47
1. Glorious Unfolding
2. Love Take Me Over
3. Take Another Step
4. Something Beautiful
5. Finish What He Started
6. Only One and Only You
7. See You in a Little While
8. A Little More Time to Love
9. Sound of Your Voice
10. Together
11. Michael and Maria
12. Feet of Jesus

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