Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Steven Curtis Chapman|
For the Sake of the Call
Genres: Country, Pop, Christian
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Kristen G. (KrisKnits) from SAULT S MARIE, MI
Reviewed on 6/4/2007...
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Chapman's 1st really good disc
Greg Brady | Capital City | 07/05/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This album placed 5 hits on Christian radio (#3 title track,#3 "Busy Man",#11 "What Kind of Joy", #15 "You Know Better" and "No Better Place", which stayed at #1 for 2 weeks) and there's good reason why: this is a very solid album with few missteps. Chapman finds some passion in putting himself in the feet of the "twelve unlikely men" who helped found Christianity and themes the album around the idea of what it means specifically to follow Christ's call.
The title track is the epic here and the orchestral and choral flourishes lend it more weight, rather than being distractions intended to puff up a bit of fluff. Chapman reminds us that in the end, the 12 disciples accomplishments stem from this: "All they really knew for sure was Jesus had called to them/He said "Come follow Me" and they came". He writes the song as the disciples' manifesto that he hopes we'll make ours: "We will abandon it all for the sake of the call.." If you want to see the strides Chapman has made vocally, listen to the way he sings "No Better Place" and compare it to anything off FIRST HAND. The boy's coming out of his shell at last...
"Show Yourselves to Be" isn't particularly involving. "When You are a Soldier" is another "Stick up for your brothers" Christian anthem that's been done many many many times. In this case, it's not as captivating as, say, Michael W. Smith's "Friends" or Russ Taff's "We Will Stand".
You don't have to be a diehard SCC aficionado to "get" this one. It feels like he went into the studio trying to make a grand statement here and for the most part he did. Recommended.
3 1/2 stars"
Chapman's Most Serious Album Was Also His First Classic
Chip Webb | Fairfax Station, VA | 07/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For the Sake of the Call, which appeared in stores the very last week of December 1990, was Steven Curtis Chapman's first classic album. By this reviewer's estimation, it's still his third best album; only Signs of Life (1996) and Speechless (1999) surpass it, although Heaven in the Real World (1994) and The Music of Christmas (1995) run neck-and-neck with it. And almost seventeen years later, it's still Chapman's most serious album -- an intense examination of what truly constitutes discipleship to Jesus Christ.
Chapman had been building up to this subject for several years. Real Life Conversations (1988) deals heavily with the Christian's position in Christ and the relationship between faith and works in the believer's life. (Interestingly enough, that album also reflects a less theologically Reformed position on Chapman's part than would become evident in later works.) More to This Life (1989) was the singer's first partial look at the sacrificial nature of the Christian life. (The album covered other topics as well.) But reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's classic work The Cost of Discipleship led to For the Sake of the Call, which far surpasses the previous two albums with its unflinching call to a radical discipleship.
The album opens with a flourish of keyboards and Nashville's Christ Presbyterian Church choir (which was no stranger to contemporary Christian music, having contributed to albums like Michael Card's Known by the Scars) singing the familiar opening line of the refrain, "He will abandon it all." The choir and Chapman volley lines back and forth twice before Chapman takes over, leaving the choir to add its vocals to the refrain and bridge. With a decidedly country tinge dominating the verses, a big chorus, and strings used unsparingly throughout, it's not too surprising that the title track became one of Chapman's signature songs. Unfortunately, the song is overproduced by longtime Chapman producer Phil Naish; the more spare arrangements of concert versions suit the song better. But Chapman's heart is in the right place, and if the big production put such a serious subject on the lips of many evangelicals, well so much the better.
The rest of the album mostly only gets more intense. "What Kind of Joy" is almost a country pop ballad looking at what motivated the apostles to make the sacrifices they did; it was a truly unlikely radio hit (the fifth for the album) that went big in early 1992. "Lost in the Shadows" is the highlight of the album, a sobering declaration of identifying with Christ in His suffering. "When You Are a Soldier," the album's second single, is a beautiful and moving ballad. It often has been interpreted as being about solidarity between two Christians when one of them is facing trials, but the lyrics rather suggest that Christ/the Holy Spirit is speaking to the troubled believer. "Higher Ways" is a sweeping, moving look at how God's ways are often beyond our comprehension. With Chapman writing in the first person, it's perhaps the most personal song on the album. "Show Yourselves to Be" is a sobering reminder of the need to produce fruit in the Christian life.
Even the songs on the album that sound more upbeat and lighthearted usually are no less serious in their lyrics. "Busy Man," the album's third single, is catchy enough, but it's about someone evading true discipleship. "Blind Leads the Blind" impresses with its horn section, but Chapman (with frequent cowriter and good friend Geoff Moore) is giving a warning here of false teachers. "You Know Better's" '50s doo-wop stylings don't mask the singer's call for erring believers to repent.
The one exception on this album is the fourth single and smash hit "No Better Place." Here, while Chapman expresses a commitment to following a road "that will not be the easy way," a sense of fun uncharacteristic of this album dominates. It's not a surprise that this song proved second only to the title track in terms of longevity; Chapman continued to play it in concerts at least up into the mid-'90s. It's the closest thing this album has to Chapman's future defining song, "The Great Adventure."
For the second album in a row, Chapman stretches himself vocally, delivering easily his most confident vocal performance up to that point in time. He's effective here at big, almost bombastic moments, such as the title track and "No Better Place." He sings "What Kind of Joy" with more force than you might expect for a near-ballad. On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, "Show Yourselves to Be" and the bridge in "Higher Ways" find Chapman at the softest you'll probably ever find him; the effect is that of almost a whisper.
The country pop characteristic of the late 1980s evidenced on this album has aged less well. The keyboard flourishes on the title track are grating to me, although I've never heard anyone else complain about them. On the other hand, the orchestrations on "Higher Ways" and "Show Yourselves to Be" still hold up well.
The message presented on this album by Chapman is timeless. By the time you get to the closing instrumental reprise of the title track, you may well feel that you've heard a major statement by an up-and-coming artist -- and you have. This album continues to make anyone who listens to the lyrics uncomfortable, as it should. It's a call to radical obedience that still has the power to hit the heart and the mind -- and will undoubtedly continue to do so as time progresses."