|Taking Off | Posted March 12, 2013
Last fall, courtesy of SocialCam, I witnessed Jason Crabb overcome his fear of heights by jumping off a cliff into a river. Though it was not a considerable drop, it was clearly not an easy feat for him. He first ran and pulled up short, but finally, after some encouragement and cajoling from his friends, took off again and jumped. Did he enjoy it? Probably not. Did he conquer some fear? You bet!
After years of performing with his parents and siblings as part of The Crabb Family, it must have felt daunting in 2007 when the group ended its journey and Jason ventured out on his own--a little like jumping off a cliff. Time has given us the luxury of knowing how things turned out. His self-titled solo debut was awarded the 2010 Grammy for Best Southern/Country/Bluegrass Gospel Album. On top of that, in 2012 the Gospel Music Association named Crabb Male Vocalist of the Year and Artist of the Year.
Certainly there was pressure for the 17-time GMA Dove winner to deliver a solid follow-up studio record. With the help of talented songwriters, and producers Jay DeMarcus (of Rascal Flatts), Ed Cash, and Wayne Haun, Jason Crabb has created a gem of a record in Love Is Stronger.
Opener "Give" finds Jason's warm vocals wrapped around a chorus that entreats listeners to be an example of what they are seeking: "If you want to get love then give it / If you want to feel some forgiveness / You've gotta let go and do some forgiving of your own / If you want a friend then be one / A little bit of kindness show some / .... / If you want it, give."
Having gained your attention, Jason brings you to your feet--and likely to your knees--with the Ronnie Freeman/Tony Wood gospel ballad "What the Blood is For." Jason uses tremendous vocal control as he slides effortlessly from soft, tender notes to full-on power belting. The lyrics remind us that, concerning God's love, grace renders performance unnecessary: "What if I can't get my act together? / That's what the blood is for / It cleans the dirty man I am / Makes it possible to stand / before you, Lord / That's what the blood is for."
The focus remains on the cross and the hope it provides with "Let Mercy Hold You," a powerful song that is already finding a lot of airplay on pop radio. The song communicates that God's mercy and love reach beyond our strongest doubt to find us in our greatest need: "There's a cross reaching to the furthest place."
On "Living Life Upside Down," a song previously recorded by Russ Lee, Jason sings about truth and priorities. This cautionary tale asks, "What if we fall into the bottom of a well / thinking we've risen to the top of a mountain / What if we're knocking at the gates of Hell / thinking we're Heaven bound ... / What if we reach up and touch the ground / to find we're living life upside-down?"
Jason draws on his wife's health struggles for "Love is Stronger." The terrific chorus can be interpreted as a celebration of endurance and victory as well as a promised hope for better days ahead. Jason's passionate vocals underscore the song's message that "life is tough, but love is stronger." This song has huge potential to expand Crabb's audience, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it chart across multiple formats, including mainstream Country radio.
The heavy-hitters continue with one of my favorites, another song by Freeman and Wood, along with Barry Weeks, the triumphant "Morning." Lyrically straightforward, the music and vocals convey God's promise that "joy comes in the morning." Nearly all chorus, the song builds to a bursting climax that sits perfectly in the middle of the album.
Up next is the familiar "There's Not a Crown (Without a Cross)," first made popular by Michael English and later recorded by the Martins. What better way to revisit a well-loved song than to unite with those who have recorded it before? Michael English and Joyce Martin Sanders join Jason to create a special moment--the arrangement is strong, the individual performances flawless, and the harmonies breathtaking. This is a recording not to be missed that will ensure this gorgeous song and its important message continue to land on listening ears.
Jason shifts gears with the upbeat "God's Up to Something," another song that uses everyday language to give voice to the fact that God is continually working in our lives: "Hold on as long as you can / cause when you're down to nothing / God's up to something."
Another guest appearance results in a song that is sure to turn heads as Kari Jobe joins her voice with Jason's on "Love Wins." A rarity today, the song was a true duet, with the two performers facing each other in the studio. The chemistry resulting from being together is evident, and Jobe's delightfully tender voice serves as a suitable foil to Jason's forceful vocal delivery. The song defies categorization and should reach and bolster many.
"Near" is a robust worship track with a chorus that leaves me feeling like I've heard it before. That's not a criticism, but rather a huge compliment. This song feels like a sister to giant hits performed by the likes of Casting Crowns.
After two big pop/worship numbers, the album comes to a thoughtful close with "Satisfied," another Freeman/Wood song. This gospel track, which feels like a hymn, is supported by an orchestral backing. The song swells and soars at moments, but the production wisely allows breathing room for quieter, more vulnerable vocal moments that reveal Jason Crabb's servant heart.
Love is Stronger is a breakthrough album that will thrust Jason Crabb into a bright spotlight. Packed from start to finish with strong songs, versatile vocal performances, and an abundance of energy and emotion, this album is not limited to a single musical category. Already finding airplay on Sirius XM's The Message and other broad-market AC/Pop Christian radio stations, Kentucky-born Crabb, whose resume is studded with achievements and awards, is leaping across genre and generational barriers and is poised to take off to even greater heights.
Comments (0) | Add Comment | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No