Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Forward-Thinking re:creation Looks Back

  • Ed Cardinal Contributing Writer
  • Updated Aug 19, 2011
Forward-Thinking <i>re:creation</i> Looks Back

Artist: Steven Curtis Chapman
Title: re:creation
Label: Sparrow

It still doesn’t feel right to discuss Steven Curtis Chapman without mentioning the sudden loss of his young daughter Maria in 2008.

The Chapmans walked with inspiring faith through that valley, and Steven’s next album Beauty Will Rise was a graceful expression of such a painful time. Now, he continues to serve his fans well by assuring them, “It’s okay to laugh with us. We’re still going to cry, but know that we feel like we’re coming into a new season and the sun is coming up.”

There’s no better soundtrack for this brightening season than re:creation, the Dove and Grammy Award-winning artist’s latest release where he recasts eight of his classic hits and offers six more all-new tracks as well. While some musicians tap their back catalog in the studio due to creative drought, there’s no sign of that here; it’s more like certain cuts just started blooming again. Chapman has said, “I found that since Maria went to heaven, many of the songs I have written over the years continue to grow in meaning.”

You’ll sense new layers in these stripped back acoustic-driven recreations. “The Great Adventure” skips the original’s iconic opening riff and gets right down to recognizing God’s epic story that lives in all of us. It’s also nice how symphonic strings and percussion replace the overproduced background vocals of 1992. The same goes for “Heaven in the Real World” and “Speechless” where traditional banjo and hammered dulcimer better serve the lyrics today than whatever audio effects were hot in ’94 and ‘99.

The biggest changeup is “Dive (Deeper),” slowed to a meditative pace and infused with unexpected flute and percussive handclaps.  More recognizable, “Magnificent Obsession” and “More to this Life” are powerful in their simplicity—great songs that hardly need anything beyond their message alone.

Among the new selections, “Do Everything” is an undeniable return to Chapman’s upbeat, observatory form just as “All That’s Left” highlights the man’s gift for a biblical ballad. “Long Way Home,” a stop-and-listen ukulele tune alluding to recent trials, is evidence of ever-deepening songwriting and spiritual maturity. A cover of the hymn “Morning Has Broken” provided the album title (“Praise every morning God’s recreation of the new day”) and beautifully carries an angelic choir into the closing worship track, “Sing Hallelujah.”

If you’ve ever liked Steven Curtis Chapman, re:creation—nostalgic yet forward thinking—will make you like him even more.