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373. Beauty Will Rise – Steve Curtis Chapman

BEAUTY WILL RISE (2009)

Steven Curtis Chapman

Everyone has biases. My bias is against mainstream CCM music that Nashville produced throughout most of the last two decades. This includes artists like Point of Grace, Carman, Michael W. Smith and Steve Curtis Chapman. The reader will not thus far a general lack of presence for what qualifies as common CCM of the last few decades.

But when Amy Grant records a “Lead Me On” and Michael W. Smith records a “Big Picture” they must be recognized for the great works that they are. The album in question may be superior to anything that that part of the industry has ever produced. The only reason it is not listed higher is because of how recently the album was released and I have no doubt that standing the test of time this album will become of the top albums in history. In fact it may be the most recent release on the entire list.

If anyone can listen to this stunning and stirring project without a lump in their throat I would doubt their humanity. It is easily the most transparent, emotional, challenging and heart wrenching album not only in Chapman’s career, but in the history of CCM. After his beautiful daughter was killed in accident at the family home with his son at the wheel of the vehicle that struck her, Chapman assumed he would never write nor perform again.

After months of prayer, pain and tears the Lord gave Chapman his voice again and he delivered 12 utterly poignant and powerful compositions of longing, loss, anger, sadness and ultimately hope. The beauty that shines is that like Job Chapman realizes that it is not a sin to not have the answers. On “Faithful” Chapman agonizes over the reality that God is faithful when He gives AND when He takes away.

It would be so easy to walk through each song and just gush over the finely crafted works they are individually, but the album is a cohesive whole that needs to be taken in as a whole if your heart can take it. Not only are the songs flawlessly written they are equally flawlessly produced and arranged. It may be musically the simplest and most stark album of Chapman’s career. There is nothing glossy and “Nashville” sounding about this release. Simple acoustic based arrangements that allow the songs to heave and sigh on their own as the artists and listener join together in the same feeling.

Beauty does rise as does Chapman on this most important and incredible release.

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  1. Shawn McLaughlin
    October 24, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Dave, I’m a little confused. Do you mean you have a bias AGAINST Nashville produced CCM of the past two decades?

    • low5point
      October 25, 2010 at 12:52 am

      I, like many, have struggled to defend some of the stuff that continually came out of the Nashville machine like Carman, Point of Grace and countess AC male vocalists that once sang with the Gaither Vocal Band. But when something comes from the normally mundane and trite formula and really stands out as different (at least for the time) like this album, Amy’s “Lead Me On” and the like it deserves recognition. This is the only SCC album on the list which would be a surprise to the CCM Magazine crowd that probably wonders “where is Carman’s ‘The Champion?'”

  2. Shawn McLaughlin
    October 31, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Yeah……I’m with ya.

  3. Greenchili
    March 8, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Well if such a bias does exist maybe you should consider changing the title of your list to something a little more accurate to reflect such bias..?

    • Shawn McLaughlin
      May 13, 2011 at 11:28 pm

      Chili – I think the first post of this list serves to define Dave’s parameters in choosing the albums he chose…..including some of his biases. Since things like this are so subjective, I’m not sure it is necessary to do to much defining. It’s just his opinion. It occurs to me that the only good way to get a near definitive list would be to compile the top 100’s of a bunch of people. It might be interesting to do that with the commentators on this blog.

  4. DanW
    June 16, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I would have added Signs of Life to this list, too. It has a darker but deeper sound than most of his other albums.

    • January 29, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      I agree Dan. I also like the album of love songs he wrote for his wife.

  5. Rob Karhukangas
    July 29, 2012 at 1:13 am

    I heard this album shortly after the death of my mother. I find it hard to review this album and keep my emotions separate. However, If an artist is able to connect with you emotionally, then they have done their job

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