The next chapter in Steven Curtis Chapman's long and successful music career has been written and is going live to the public. After being Speechless since 1999, on September 25th, 2001, Steven Curtis is living out loud and making a Declaration.
I love this man. Steven Curtis never ceases to amaze me. Although Speechless was undoubtedly his best work ever put out, Declaration offers some truly excellent cuts. Musically, it differs from previous works in the sense that Chapman uses a lot more electric guitars than even Speechless or any other earlier work. "Live Out Loud" is the album opener which is upbeat like "Dive," but much more on the fun pop side of the spectrum. A bouncy jazzy piano jumps in the background as Steven sings to a a fast "happy" rhythm and is supported by many background vocals for what results in quite the party atmosphere.
The mood of the album quickly tones down with "This Day," a slow yet upbeat acoustic pop tune accompanied by some strong electrics later in the tune. It already becomes evident with the latter part of this song that Steven just seems to want to rock more as he's getting older. But this really is demonstrated with the pop/rock sounds of "Jesus Is Life," a song Chapman uses to 'clear up any confusion' about who Christ means to him. Maybe he's been envying labelmates Earthsuit's abilities to rock the stage during live shows (as he was was clearly effected by their show last year at Creation). "No Greater Love" starts off on a pretty tame side, musically reminiscent of "Not Home Yet" or "Out There" (which featured a duet with Michael W Smith). Half-way through the song, the electric guitars kick in and provide an excellent melody to the rock ballad. The song takes an interesting twist when background vocals provided by a Native American kick in. In moderation, this would be unique and pretty cool, but the man's utterings of what sounds like a single line are repeated to the point of annoyance over and over for a minute straight. Apparently the man singing relates to the story that inspired the song, but musically he detracts from the incredible sounds of the song.
"God is God" is an intricate rock ballad complete with pounding percussion and thoughtful orchestral arrangements. At one point in the song, it breaks into a tribal segment that is an excellent touch. "God is God" serves as a reminder to the listener and Chapman himself of God's sovereignty and how he is above us and we are incomparable to His holiness. The album continues on with my two personal favorites, starting with the upbeat pop/rock tune "See the Glory." This song serves up as a wake up call to Chapman as how we tend to stand in the presence of God's creation and Glory but fail to see how grand it is. The electronic sounds are an added bonus, making this a truly fun yet painfully true song. "Bring It On" is an inspiring rock tune inviting the tests and trials of this world to come and allow God to use them to shape our character. This is probably the hardest rock song Chapman has done to date with pounding drums and loud, buzzing guitars. Chapman has truly got a Declaration with this project and there's no hiding it.
"When Love Takes You In" is a beautiful ballad which features Chapman singing to piano accompaniment which he wrote and played himself, a first for his career. The song was inspired by Chapman's experiences with adoption, as he and his family had adopted a young girl a couple years ago. "Declaration of Dependence" is a pop/rock tune which sums up the theme of the record, announcing Chapman's declaration of dependence on the Lord as well as being a declaration of his faith. The same could be said for the lyrical content of the album.
Another excellent addition to Steven Curtis Chapman's impressive solo career, Declaration offers 13 modern pop/rock tracks to encourage and strengthen your faith. Don't miss this one. Rock on, Steven!- Review date: 9/23/01, written by John DiBiase
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