Steven Curtis Chapman’s insights and ideas are wiser and more wide-eyed than ever before on This Moment, his compelling sixteenth studio album and first new project in more than three years. Wisdom culled from two decades of ante-upping artistry...
Steven Curtis Chapman’s insights and ideas are wiser and more wide-eyed than ever before on This Moment, his compelling sixteenth studio album and first new project in more than three years. Wisdom culled from two decades of ante-upping artistry (five Grammies, a record-breaking fifty-one Dove Awards) anchors the set in a delightfully confident pop musicality. Meanwhile, the new wonders he’s finding at home and now on the other side of the world add passion and a worshipful air to his thoughtful lyrics.
But that's not to say this record came easily. In fact, Chapman truly wrestled to find its core.
"Theme has always been so important for me," says the man behind such modern clarion call favorites as For the Sake of the Call and The Great Adventure. "I've got to be hearing clearly from God about what it is that he's giving me to share from this platform. It doesn't have to be earth shattering for everyone else, but it has to be for me."
After an unexpectedly long season of listening, what Steven finally heard was simply profound.
"The words of Revelation 1:19—’write therefore the things that are seen'—kept coming back to me," he recalls. "It was as if God was saying, 'Just write what you know.'"
What Chapman knows well today, through the growth of his family and his growing heart for international outreach, is the vital importance of embracing the "miracle of the moment." That's the title of the duly anthemic first single and opening track from This Moment, and it’s a truth that definitely needs fresh restating in such a fast-forward world.
We are who and where and what we are for now. And this is the only moment we can do anything about. So breathe it in and breathe it out. Listen to your heartbeat. There's a wonder in the here and now. It's right there in front of you. And I don't want you to miss the miracle of the moment.
Stepping further into the album, it is pleasing to discover how masterfully Chapman, a nine-time Songwriter of the Year winner, seamlessly applies his chosen theme across various sonic settings and three distinct areas: family, global mindedness, and worship.
On the lilting ballad "Cinderella," Steven gets caught up in the beautiful moment of a father dancing with his daughter from childhood into adulthood, unknowingly spinning what could be his biggest cross-format radio hit to date in the process. So personal and so universal, it was the first song written for This Moment and the one among so many greats that is most certain to last.
For "One Heartbeat," he gives his wife and moms everywhere a sweet reminder of their day-in/day-out magnificence (Oh you may not see it now, but I believe that time will tell how you are changing the world one little heartbeat at a time). "You Are Being Loved" is an intentionally present tense, melody-rich stadium rocker that Chapman says is already speaking in special ways to his sons who now play in his live band and also make cameo appearances on This Moment.
Remarkably, it is Chapman's family that has also prompted his own awakening to the desperate current needs of others around the world. How Steven’s oldest biological daughter convinced her parents to adopt a little girl from China—and how that experience led them to adopt two more children and create a foundation to financially assist thousands of couples in bringing home orphans from many countries, including the U.S., into forever families—is a continuing story of transcendent impact. It certainly influences the message of This Moment on cuts like “Yours” and sure-shot pop smash “Something Crazy.”
The former may be the album’s grandest, clearest moment— a soaring U2-flavored revelation of how God owns everything and is ever present in every place from America and Europe to war torn Africa and communist China where Chapman and his family have done mission work together on several recent occasions.
“After our first trip to China, my wife and I knew our lives were changing—our eyes and hearts were opening to how big God really is, and we have wanted to experience more of that,” Steven says; the Chapmans spent month long stretches in 2006 and 2007 working at Chinese orphanages. “We’ve really wondered whether or not we should just go to China and stay there. But I don’t think so. I believe God is saying, ‘I want you to go, get your heart broken, your eyes opened, and then take this story back to the church in America and around the world.’”
This Moment pointedly contributes to answering that call. What’s more, the call to international outreach has in turn opened the floodgates on the new album’s third distinct element: an outright modern worship music style. At its peak, “Yours” is a stirring praise chorus. “With One Voice,” written in London with worship leader Matt Redman, could be sung in churches globally today.
With one voice we will sing. Every tribe and every tongue brings a harmony. With one voice we will bring Heaven’s beautiful melody down to this earth as we sing to our King with one voice.
“I’ve resisted doing worship music on a record because there are artists who clearly have a special gift for it in ways that I probably don’t. I should just stay out of Chris Tomlin’s way, you know?” laughs Chapman, referring to his past tour mate and the world’s best known worship songwriter. “But I love singing worship songs on stage along with the audience, and I’ve been amazed at how people in other countries may not speak English, but they’ll know a song like “Here I Am to Worship.” Worship music is a language in itself. I’m seeing firsthand the connection it can make, so to write in that style is becoming more natural and exciting for me.”
Co-produced by Steven Curtis Chapman and Matt Bronleewe (Leeland, Rebecca St. James) and tracked in Los Angeles with a rock solid studio band whose combined credits include Sting, Paul McCartney, and Sheryl Crow, This Moment not surprisingly showcases a stellar outpouring of crystalline musicianship throughout its fourteen songs. For all the tracks already mentioned there are just as many more that fans will be thrilled to discover, highlighting a range of styles from ‘70s piano pop to country-influenced adult contemporary. All the while, Chapman’s voice is more effective than ever, an emotionally charged instrument that moves well back and forth from falsetto to full steam—whatever the song calls for to get the all-important message across.
And it’s all about what God is doing in every heart, in every corner of the world, in this moment.