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DECLARATION (2001)
Declaration - Click to pre-order! Imagine this...After 14 years in the Christian music industry, Steven Curtis Chapman is still going strong. Now picture this...His vast number of awards, honors, and #1 hits have made him practically a household name. It's no wonder Mr. Chapman is "la la la la" living out loud. And he should. The multi-talented guitarist and songwriter has crafted another stroke of genius with Declaration.

Regis Philbin makes a startling cameo in the lyrics to the disc's opener, "Live Out Loud," which is the "anthem" of Declaration, so to speak. Its infectious instrumentation is as addictive as drinking 20 cups of coffee, and it distinctly proclaims that "if God's love is burning in our hearts...there's just no way to keep it in." Chapman then acoustically thanks God for "This Day," in which all His mercies are made new and His promises still hold. With every album, SCC has inched toward the line between pop and rock, and he finally oversteps the mark on the simple yet poignant truth that "Jesus Is Life." "No Greater Love" brings in Mincaye, a member of the Waodoni tribe of Ecuador and a new friend of Steven's, to help sing the soul-stirring ballad. It beautifully reminds us that "There is no greater gift / that can ever be given / to be willing to die so another might live," and even brings in some powerful electric guitars towards the bridge for added effect. For anyone who's ever wondered who God really is, SCC makes the answer plainly clear as he delves onto a personal level on "God is God." Accompanied by a fantastic string quartet, Chapman admits that none of us can even take a breath unless God gives it to us. It is to Him all the worship, glory, and praise belongs.

Now playing with power, track #6 shakes things back up with "See the Glory," more affectionately known to fans as "The GameBoy Song." Crossing the rock-and-roll boundary again, we are invited to "wake up and see the glory" and experience the amazement of God's grace as a GameBoy joyfully plays in the background. The little critter even gets its own solo, backed up by a full orchestra. Next, Steven Curtis Chapman roughly encourages his trials and tribulations to "Bring It On," as an electric guitar thunders in the background and a quiet piano carries listeners over the tidal wave with him. Dedicated to his adopted daughter Shaohannah, "When Love Takes You In" offers hope to the lonely orphans of the world, wandering aimlessly looking for love. Thankfully, they need look no further than our Heavenly Father, who has adopted us all as his children, and loved us so much that He sent his very own Son to die for the sins of mankind. There truly is "no greater love" than that. At this point the remainder of Declaration trails off, and "Magnificent Obsession" doesn't leave much to be desired. "Declaration of Dependence," however, is quite catchy, aside from the annoying "Oh-oh-oh-ohs." "God Follower" hitches a ride along the same track, furthering the story of the aforementioned Waodoni tribe, but "Carry You to Jesus" is a welcome departure with its Joy Electric-like synth background. This sublime ballad tells the story of someone struggling through immense pain, while SCC offers to "carry" this person to Jesus on his knees. As is his tradition with previous albums, Chapman finishes his work with a stunning and well-written hymn entitled "Savior" that pleads for Christ Jesus to save us all. The imagery emitted by this lovely song is tear-jerking and picturesquely captures what our Lord did for us on the cross.

Although not superior to its predecessor Speechless, Declaration shares the music of Steven Curtis Chapman more personally than before. The overall listening experience is enjoyable and pleasant, aside from a couple of tracks, and there's no doubt that a majority of the songs released to radio will emerge as #1 on the charts. Not his best, but it'll do.
- Rick Foux
April 2002
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