Colton Dixon “Anchor” Album Review
Prime Cuts: Echo, Through All of It, Anchor
Maybe it's because of his awe striking performance of Billy Joel's "Piano Man" on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, some had wished Colton Dixon would be the next piano man. Or maybe it's because of his ultra-moving rendition of Coldplay's "Fix You" on American Idol, others had wished he would translate Coldplay's British melodic coolness across continents. But two albums deep into Colton Dixon's career only reveal that the 22 year-old is very much a star of his own. He's not just a mere mirage of another superstar wandering aimlessly in the sonic desert dearth of identity. Rather, Dixon is an oasis himself pegged with his own distinctiveness. On "Anchor," his sophomore record for Sparrow Records, Dixon has honed in his own sound. Utilizing a myriad of elements from rock, pop, electronic, dance and punk, his music is very much the product of the Millennium.
"Anchor" continues to allow Dixon to express himself in ways that are even more audacious and vulnerable relative to his debut. The album covers are most telling. Rather, than posing in his aloofness with his Billy Idol Mohawk hairstyle as on his debut album cover, "Anchor's" front picture depicts a helpless Dixon gasping for dear life in the middle of the ocean. Thus, if there is a theme that runs right through these 11 songs (with two brief interludes) it is Dixon's heart's cry for God's salvation in midst of our brokenness. Part of the success of "Anchor" resides in Dixon's willingness to branch out in co-writing with some of the best writers in Contemporary Christian music including TobyMac, Matthew West, Ben Glover, David Garcia among others.
The song that is the most reflective of Dixon's growth as a vocalist and writer is the title cut "Anchor," a song that speaks of our Savior's grace. Colton elucidates the deftness of such glorious message by decelerating the speed of the song towards the chorus and into the bridge where he deliberately takes his time to pound out the refrain (to God) "save my soul" as if to drill into our souls that God and Him alone can save us. Though "More of You" is not immediately recognizable as the lead single material, it is also most spiritually uncompromising song. While many artists are carefully to tone down the religious elements in their songs; Dixon is to be applauded by upping the ante as he prayerfully asks for more and more of Jesus in his life.
The same can be same about "Dare to Believe;" despite the strong electronic dance beats, it's one of Dixon's most Biblically saturated songs on the record. Rather than utilizing polytechnics as an end in itself, listen especially to how Colton aptly uses auto-voicing to enhance the echo-ing effect of the message of "Echo;" a creative call for all of us to be more and more Christ-like. And for those who wonder where the balladeer who used to charm us on American Idol with songs such as "Lately" and 'Time After Time" has gone, look no farther than "Through All of It." "Through All of It" is a gorgeous worship ballad featuring just Dixon's voice and a piano. It is so good that the greed in us actually wishes that there would be more of such ballads.
Thus, in sum, "Anchor" is crisp, fresh, bold and unapologetically Dixon.
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