Sounds like … a raw version of the SCC we know and love

At a glance … After his daughter's death, the veteran artist battles despair but finds hope in his most candid record to date.

Throughout his storied 20-year career, we've mostly heard upbeat praises from Steven Curtis Chapman—though he's known for his relatable public persona. But on Beauty Will Rise, the Grammy-winning, multi-platinum-selling artist's twenty-first and arguably most-anticipated release, he lets listeners into the dark night of the soul he's experienced since the death of his 5-year-old daughter, Maria, on May 21, 2008.

The tragedy so devastated Chapman that he was unsure if he would ever perform again. But over the past 16 months, on the "United Tour" with Michael W. Smith, he used makeshift studios—hotel rooms, tour buses, and dressing rooms—to record 12 cathartic "psalms" of worship and lament, producing his most honest and acoustic effort to date. So honest, in fact, it's impossible not to join Chapman on a veritable roller coaster of emotions.

First single "Heaven Is the Face" describes his longing for heaven simply because it will mean a reunion with his beloved daughter. The multi-layered "Beauty Will Rise" admits, "I screamed 'til my voice was gone … Slowly panic turns to pain as we awake to what remains," before passionately asserting that one day, beauty will rise from the ashes. "Faithful" shows Chapman determined to see God's faithfulness in the midst of tragedy. On "Questions," he ponders how a good God could have let his daughter die. "Where were you, God? / I know You had to be right there / You never turned your head." A poignant moment is "February 20," in which Chapman recalls the day of Maria's salvation and her longing to live in God's "big, big house."

Battered and broken as he may be, Chapman makes it clear his faith is winning the battle. The album's ultimate declaration is that he will trust God, even though he doesn't understand. Anyone who has suffered a personal tragedy will find solace here, especially on the compassionate "Jesus Will Meet You There."

Meanwhile, melancholy pianos and joyful string arrangements mirror the album's dual themes. Content to serve as a backdrop, melodies are typical Chapman fare, albeit more stripped down. He's hardly making a bold statement here, but it's hard to find fault because acoustic guitars, a cello and gentle production serve the subject matter well. And unsurprisingly, every nuance comes through Chapman's intimate vocal delivery.

All in all, it's a graphic tribute of amazing depth, a privileged glimpse into the veteran singer's heavy heart. Moments of hope shine bright, but fans reluctant to enter into a father's anguish should think twice before they buy.

Beauty Will Rise
Our Rating
4 Stars - Excellent
Average Rating
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Release Date
November 3, 2009
Sparrow Records
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