Today sees the release of Identity, the latest album from Christian artist and American Idol alum Colton Dixon. It's a heartfelt, ambitious and anthemic effort, worthy of your attention.
I'm not naturally a lover of mainstream Christian rock/pop, but while this album was a little outside of my slightly more mellow, folky comfort zone, I enjoyed it. Fans of Dixon, and of Christian rock/pop in general, will probably love it.
The album is marked by three atmospheric instrumental/spoken word sections: titled 'The mind', 'The body' and 'The spirit', each introduces the theme of the section to come. Each section has its own musical style, from upbeat pop, to edgier rock, to a more reflective, relaxed finale.
It's an interesting conceptual move that makes the 17-track album a richer experience. It invites deeper reflection on the messages of the music, and the parts of Scripture it quotes. It also provides important beats of rest in the midst of what is otherwise quite an intense, tub-thumping experience.
The title track of the album 'Identity' is an anthemic, vibrant celebration of the identity that God gives to human beings. Its lyrics proclaim with appropriate simplicity: 'We are the chosen/ we are royalty/ we are your children/ you set us free/ you alone are my identity.'
'All that matters', is a catchy exploration of a similar theme, based off scriptures like Colossians 3:11 and Isaiah 40:8. It declares: 'I've tasted hopelessness/ I know what heartache is/ somehow through all of it/ your love remains/ I've lived through brokenness/ feeling faceless/ I'm not anonymous/ you know my name.'
Dixon mixes up his styles and influences across the album, offering energetic, electronic dance tracks, and slower-paced, more personal pieces.
'Warriors' celebrates triumphantly the notion of being 'more than conquerors', while 'Down' provides another heartfelt, high-powered reflection on the grace of God.
'Human' is a disarmingly honest anthem in which Dixon relates his own flaws and limitations, highlighting how human weakness can point to God's own greatness.
At the end of a high-energy journey, the album ends with the more low-key, soulful piano-laden epilogue. 'The other side' boldly engages the themes of loss and the fear of death. In 'Autopsy' Dixon declares, as a conclusion to this work: 'I am more than skin and bones.'
Dixon's effort with Identity is an impressive one, worthy of repeat listens. His style might not be loved by all, but even newcomers like myself will find something to appreciate in this diverse album.
Dixon said of Identity: 'I deal with some topics that might be hard to hear. I want fans to feel motivated and encouraged, but I want these songs to challenge them and make them think about their own lives.'
This is an album that poses challenge to its audience, but through its central theme – offers great hope too. It invites reflection, celebration, and a heavenward gaze.
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