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Chris Mason
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CROWDED SPACES (2003)
Crowded Spaces - Click to view! I don't know about you, but I find it easy to throw away the most important things when I get too busy. My life tends to revolve around what I like, what I want, what I think I need-everything else is expendable. Things like family time, personal devotions, and brotherly love (among others) are thrown overboard in an attempt to save myself from drowning. After my Father has rescued me (as He consistently does time and again), I shake my head and wonder why I always abandon the life preservers and cling to lead bricks.

Listening to Crowded Spaces makes me suspect that Chris Mason can identify with these frustrating struggles. From beginning to end, honesty pervades Chris's stories and lessons, mingling his frailty with God's strength to tell stories of redemption and hope. Lead-off track "Something More" is a good example: while he openly admits a longing for "something more" (surprise!), he points us to Jesus, the only One who can ever quell our insatiable hearts. Similarly, "Middle of My Doubt" wonders at the grace of God that is near even at our darkest moments.

Other songs provide snapshots of life. "What You Love" watches two college students discover that while daydreams fade away, providence gives us more glorious destinies. Meanwhile, "Still the Same" and "Long Way" are provocative glimpses into the lives of loves who are struggling to rise above their trials. Perhaps the "tear-jerker" of the disc, "Gloria" is a husband's collection of memories of home and the love that is shown there—anyone who has a soldiering spouse will not go unmoved by this song.

While Mason's greatest strength is his songwriting, the musical side of things must not be overlooked. Producers Andrew Osenga and Cason Cooley (both of The Normals) deserve kudos for not turning this disc into a pseudo-Normals project. Utilizing some great musicians (Garett Buell of Caedmon's Call and Mark Lockett of The Normals along with many other Nashville regulars), Chris's sound remains unassuming as it plants the lyrics and melodies in your mind. At times, I do wish that Chris's voice contained more emotion, but this complaint is minor when viewed against the backdrop of this album's strengths.

Throughout all the moments of pain and joy, loneliness and love, sin and redemption, Chris is consistently pointing us back to the Gospel and how it works out in our lives. And quite frankly, that is why this disc will grip your heart. Chris's words are well-chosen to penetrate our hard heads and even harder hearts (and anyone who will use drinking coffee as a metaphor gets extra points in my book!). Take it with you in to the crowded spaces of your life and pray that God would use it as muscle to help you discard the lead weight and cling to our Preserver.
- Jason Ewert
January 2004
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