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Steven Curtis Chapman - Speechless

Review by Paul M. Carhart
Originally published in The Lighthouse Electronic Magazine (TLeM)

Steven Curtis Chapman rocks!

"Who?" You might ask. "That acoustic guy who did that song for "The Apostle?"

Exactly. That's the guy. One listen to Mr. Chapman's latest release, Speechless, and I am confident that you will agree.

The first time I popped this disc in, I thought perhaps that someone had made a mistake and burned the wrong content onto the disc. That is, until I heard Chapman's signature vocals. There is certainly a slight techno vibe between the guitar riffs on "Dive," the opening track, and it is just a little disconcerting at first. However, the songs on this project are so fresh and diverse, one can easily warm up to them despite being taken off guard initially.

Steeped with full, warm electric guitars with jamming acoustics thrown in to fill in the gaps, most of the songs on this album just plain rock. However, Chapman's lyrics are still up front and as poignant as ever. In fact, a second listen to the album will confirm that Chapman is still the same guy who wrote "King of the Jungle" and "I Will Be There" and if you heard his previous release Signs of Life, which many saw as a departure from his established style, you may well be able to perceive the road that this artist is taking in his stylistic evolution. It makes me look forward to his next album all the more.

Speechless is not just a rockin' guitar album though. Chapman easily mixes his new polished modern rock sound with orchestral pieces and tasteful ballads and the overlying theme seems to be the overwhelmingly awesomeness of God.

The title track, and the first single from the album, bears the most resemblance to his previous work but it still manages to fit in nicely with it's sweeping orchestral arrangements, acoustically driven melody and child-like background vocals. Songs like "Dive," "The Change," "Next 5 Minutes," "Whatever," and "I Do Believe" definitely will get your toes tapping and your blood pumping. However, Chapman hasn't forgot about the gentler side of his work either. "Great Expectations," "Fingerprints of God," "The Invitation," "What I Really Want to Say" as well as the trilogy of songs that end the album, "With Hope," "The Journey," and "Be Still and Know," are excellent examples of Chapman's ability to tug at the heartstrings and achieve an emotional response with the listener. It's a pleasure to listen to this disc straight through from the beginning to the end and to experience the fruits of a true craftsman.

A third listen to the album, and you may find that this disc isn't leaving your CD player anytime least until Mr. Chapman's next release.


Related Information

For a year or so I was a CD reviewer for The Lighthouse Electronic Magazine (TLeM) where this review was originally published.

- Paul M. Carhart


  © 1998 Paul M. Carhart, all rights reserved, all media.