If album titles are statements about God's claim on the lives of the artist, the monikers of Steven Curtis Chapman's portfolio detail a man who has fearlessly abandon his life to God. Album titles of such as "For the Sake of the Call," "The Great Adventure," "Dive," "Beauty Will Rise," "Declaration" and "re: creation" spell out a life so secured in Jesus Christ that nothing seem to faze him in diving into God's call. Life therefore becomes an adventure of boundless possibilities where even beauty could be resurrected out of ugliest evil. Chapman's latest album epithet "The Glorious Unfolding" adds a further chapter to his storied career of lived-out faith. "The Glorious Unfolding" as a song as well as the controlling theme of the record remind us that life is not a "samsara" of meaningless cycles. Rather, life is an epic of how God unravels his story of salvation from creation to glorification. And by His grace, God has allowed us fallible human beings to play a major role in this breathtaking story. With each song Chapman opens up our eyes to see how God as the master narrator works behind the scenes unfolding His story within the ordinary happenstances of our lives, our worship and our relationships.
"The Glorious Unfolding" is Chapman's first album of all original material in seven years. But within this intervening time, he has had cut an acoustic collection of some of his biggest hits ("re:creation"), a rootsy country hymns ensemble ("Deep Roots") and two Number One Hits compilation discs. Kicking off in high gear is the energetic lead single "Love Take Me Over." Though Chapman's hiatus into the more acoustically driven sonic direction was much beloved, it is refreshing to hear Chapman returning back his brand of pop-rock that first brought him to the dance. With deliberate pauses, a cuttingly fresh guitar sound and a "woo-oah" catchy chorus, "Love Take Me Over" is a prayer to God to overwhelm our thoughts, actions and words with God's love. The title cut "The Glorious Unfolding" literally opens in cinematic aplomb where the electronic ethereal sounds slowly glides into a glorious opening as Chapman reminds us that there are no accidental happenstances in our lives. Rather, each vignette of life is deftly crafted by the Master Storyteller to narrate His grander narrative.
"Something Beautiful" shows that Chapman has not lost any momentum as far as today's latest sounds are concerned with its fresh Coldplay beats over Chapman's usual guitar-driven flair. Chapman uncovers a seminal aspect of God's story with "A Little More Time to Love." God did not place us on this earth for some navel-gazing business. Rather, we were created to spread his love; don't let the gentle piano backing belie "A Little More Time for Love" of this powerful message. Considering the ordeal of what the Chapmans went through in the last few years when their daughter Maria was lost to a horrendous car accident, "Michael and Maria" takes on a new teary-eyed perspective. Chapman's detour into country music earlier this year has equip him well for "Michael and Maria"--- a country-style narrative ballad that wrestles with the pain of loss in ways that are palatably graceful and sensitivity heartfelt.
Pleasantly welcoming is the higher quotient of ballads on this new record relative to Chapman's earlier efforts. Somehow reminisce of Chapman's stalwart "I'll Be There" is "Together." "Together" is a romantic string-orchestrated ballad that doesn't have the light-weightiness of many of today's love songs. Rather, it is the imbued with a maturity that comes with the years of seeking God as a couple together. Though "The Glorious Unfolding" faults a little on the predictable side of Chapman, it is still an indispensable record as it unfolds the greatest story of history. And when Chapman gets into the story telling booth his eloquence as expressed through these songs is peerless.