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Crisis: Change Is Required

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 May
Crisis: Change Is Required
Sounds like … Usher, Blackstreet, Dave Hollister and other R&B crooners who aren't afraid to infuse drama in their mellower materialAt a glance … Christopher Lewis joins a shortlist of urban gospel artists who have no qualms about airing some dirty laundry along with their proclamation of God's loveTrack Listing

Disc One

U Don't Know The Definition Joy @ the Park Change Man Inside of Me Tempted (Girl on MySpace) Nothin' The Fall of London Bridge Glory Promises The Cryout Only Time Runnin' Show Me the Way Show Me the Way (reprise) Intro / Coming Out Party How Many Saints Does It Take to Party?

Disc Two

Open Up My Heart Psalm 95 (A Call to Worship) Your Word In You Knowing You Incline My Heart Honest Heart Flow Here I Am Psalm 121

Artist bios are typically puff pieces, laden with adjectives and descriptors that do little to really depict their subjects. Forget about the tired clichés and hyperbole. The one for Tyscot recording singer Christopher Lewis is no different, kicking off with the statement that he is "not your average inspirational singer, songwriter, producer and worship leader." A run-of-the-mill declaration at best, but turns out it's spot-on in describing Lewis' new two-disc album, Crisis: Change Is Required.

First there's the inspirational component, as Lewis approaches the genre with the poise of an established R&B vocalist and producer, sounding every bit as silky as early Usher, Blackstreet, and Brian McKnight. It's a well-accomplished urban style, complemented by Lewis' smooth tenor—a soulful, delicate croon that doesn't outright melt, but memorable enough to carry the tunes.

Perhaps the most striking detail about the urban half of Crisis is Lewis' honest-to-goodness compositions. At times they're so real it's hard to reconcile that this is in essence a gospel album. "What would I do if I lost it all today/My wife and kids over a roll in the hay?" ponders Lewis in the otherwise worshipful "Nothin'," a song based around Matthew 16:26 that sees the singer contemplating the world's temptations in light of God's immeasurable riches.

Admittedly, some of this forthrightness can be rather jarring, especially during the interlude "The Fall of the London Bridge," an impassioned exchange between Lewis and a significant other—bleeped-out expletives and all. Yet there's something oddly magnetic about the performances, some of which recalls David in the way they mix vertical praise with confessions of inadequacy and guilt.

Interestingly, the worship leader part of the bio comes out in the ten tracks of the second disc, entitled Honest Heart. Probably aimed at offsetting the frankness of the first disc, the songs are mostly musical prayers, reflective of Lewis' heart for the Lord. It's a nice companion piece, a counterpoint for those who are not yet ready for this much realness in their urban gospel music.

Crisis is not groundbreaking—Kirk Franklin and Dave Hollister have tried their hand at this warts-and-all brand of songwriting before. It's nonetheless refreshing to hear an urban gospel artist exploring his faith through his life.

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