In 2021, it's rare to see artists even making it to their 8th full-length studio album, let alone recording it after only a decade in the business. Prolific Christian music heavyweight Steven Curtis Chapman passed this incredible milestone in 1996 with the release of the acclaimed Signs of Life.
The 1990s and early 2000s were arguably the golden age for Steven, where he released new music at a remarkable rate. Each album has at least one song that became a classic. Signs of Life was no different. Now, as the album turns 25 years old, we look back at one of Steven's signature releases. Let's review the songs that have left the greatest legacy.
"Lord of the Dance"
"Lord of the Dance" was an instant classic. The song's sound blends bluegrass and soft rock into one of the most memorable hooks of '90s Christian music. Steven sings of how we need Christ to fulfill our lives in order for them to truly have meaning. This song balanced relevant themes with some of the most engaging and dynamic melodies you could find on the radio. Showing how versatile the contemporary Christian vocalist could be, this song became one of the album's most defining hits.
"Signs of Life"
The album's title track finds Steven musing on the signs of life, both in terms of the little tangible things that represent life and also the deeper questions of letting the love of Christ and hope He brings us to become known to all the world.
From the 2020s perspective, the song hits even harder when Steven quips how earth has technology that an alien inhabitant would find better than anything else in the universe. Yet, we're unable to communicate with each other. If Steven saw this unsettling trend in the '90s, just imagine how much truer it is now.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, technology had slowly captured people in its isolated bubble. Add in the distance brought about by the pandemic, and this song's themes hit all the deeper.
Musically, the song is another Chapman anthem that will get stuck in your head all day. It may be 25 years old, but this tune carries a timely message for the people of 2021.
"Let Us Pray"
Another hit, another groovy guitar hook, another Steven Curtis Chapman signature chorus. So fantastic. The verses have whimsy energy that invites the listener to get lost in the melody. The chorus practically forces the listener to sing along with hands raised in the air. Thematically, it might seem like a simple song, but like so many of Steven's pieces, there's a deeper appreciation for listeners who opt to go deeper into the lyrics.
Offering a more reflective and emotive single from this album, "Free" gives us a passionate exploration of the true freedom found in Christ. Steven's reassuring delivery has always imbued his music with a deeper thematic relevance, and this song is a fine example of this fact. Offering a more melodic contrast to some of the more foot-tapping hook-driven hits of the album, "Free" gave listeners a reminder that the contemporary powerhouse that Steven had become known for was still kicking.