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Steven Curtis Chapman
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MORE TO THIS LIFE (1989)
More to this Life - Click to view! So you're the average teenage millennial, die hard fan of dc Talk, thinking, "Great! Steven Curtis Chapman in 1989--what could be worse?" Now, hold on. While many claim the eighties was Christian music's "lost decade," the passion to question faith and culture on this album inspired many of today's hottest alternative bands...and stands its own musical ground with both acoustic and programmed melody. Not convinced? Check out a verse from "Love You with My Life:" "Some people love with money ~ Some people love with words ~ Some people love because they love the return." I could go on, but the point is that More to This Life is far from the "love one another" cheesiness of today's pop--instead challenging all with undeniable honesty. A major milestone in Christian hit radio, the title track is an inspired melody looking to the supernatural realm for the meaning of life. "Waiting For Lightning" finds the listener at that in-between time waiting for a sign or feeling while God is calling for an intimate relationship. As "Living for the Moment" ends, the tender strain of strings is heard. "I Will Be Here." I had forgotten Steven's best-known ballad to his wife was on this disc, sure to bring tears to the eyes of all the Gen-Xers whose weddings have featured it. The only impression of "Who Makes the Rules?" is gladness that SCC abandoned country for his current modern pop/alternative (if you can stand the sound, it does hold a crucial message for the church). Listen closely to the backdrop of this CD and you'll find a keyboard and guitar fighting for volume; this subtle struggle represented a crossroads for Steven, with the guitar eventually winning out in the 1994 recording Heaven in the Real World. Track seven makes an interesting metaphor comparing the wealth of wisdom in God's Word to the search for fortune in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (and one of my favorite films, the Disney version...but I'm not doing movie reviews now). Three of my favorite SCC songs follow consecutively: "Way Beyond the Blue" finds a fading passion being renewed by God's endless vision; with an acousticism vaguely reminiscent of Caedmon's Call, "In This Little Room" reveals the heart of a songwriter praying for his craft to touch hearts; and the album's tenth cut relates the conflict of expressing "Thoughts my hearts alone can speak." As a landmark CCM album, and as a time of quiet consideration between the more intense projects Real Life Conversations and For the Sake of the Call, Steven's third effort is worth seeking.
- Josh M. Shepherd
July 1999
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