Steven Curtis Chapman was born on November 21, 1962 in Paducah, Kentucky. His debut album was 1987’s FIRST HAND. Fast forward to 2003 and he released his eleventh studio album entitled ALL ABOUT LOVE (Sparrow). It was produced by Brown Bannister and Steven, and executive produced by Steven’s wife Mary Beth Chapman. Steven and Mary Beth wrote the album’s extensive liner notes. Steven writes: “I believe that it’s in and through our relationships with each other that we come to a deeper understanding of our relationship with our God”. Of his marriage: “I never imagined being in love and staying there would be nearly as hard or as wonderful as it has been. Only an infinitely wise God could’ve created something that could fulfill such deep longings in our hearts while exposing even deeper ones...In a way, marriage is like holding up a mirror to your heart”. Mary Beth shares: “Whether you are young, old, engaged, broken-hearted, single, married, divorced, or widowed, this record is an honest approach of one of the most difficult tasks in life, relationships!”
First up is the peppy pop title track, ‘All About Love’, on which Joey Canaday plays bass and Scott Sheriff plays B-3. These words of wisdom begin the song: “We’ve got CD’s, tapes, and videos, and radio and TV shows/Conferences, retreats, and seminars/We’ve got books and magazines to read on everything from A to Z/And a web to surf from anywhere we are/But I hope with all this information buzzing through our brains/That we will not let our hearts forget/The most important thing is/Love (5X)/It’s all about/Love (5X)”. ‘Your Side of the World’ is a pop song that seeks to see things from the perspective of another: “So tell me the color of your sky above/Paint me a picture of the things that make you smile/Show me your fears and what you’re dreaming of/Take me to where my heart can see across the miles/And please, please tell me what you can cause I want to understand.../How does it look from your side, from your side of the world?”
Steven writes: “If I was asked what the one secret has been for keeping our marriage together and growing strong, I would answer without hesitation, ‘prayer’. Prayer has been at the center of our relationship since our first date...” ‘How Do I Love Her’ is a splendid adult contemporary number featuring the London Session Orchestra. It finds Steven asking God for romantic advice: “Out of all the gifts You’ve given besides the very gift of life/There is none as precious to me as the treasure of my wife/And still all the love in my heart is like a raindrop to the sea/When compared to Your love for her and that’s why I’m asking please/Will You teach me what she needs?/I’m an earnest man when it comes to learning how to love this woman”. Mary Beth writes: “I am thankful that I was the one chosen to become Steven’s wife...I know that no matter what the struggles and what the cost, we were made, created in the womb of our mothers, to join together as one flesh. We are now and will forever be one person, together”. ’11-6-64’ is a sentimental song about the day of Mary Beth’s birth: “Well, I was only 2 so I didn’t have a clue of all that was transpiring/But I, I bet the sky was blue and all the world looked new/Cause everything was changing/11-6-64 you breathed your first breath/And suddenly living life meant so much more/On the day that you were born”.
Matt Rollins plays piano on ‘You’ve Got Me’. The bouncy pop chorus is comprised of uncreative lyrics: “On a Monday, on a Tuesday, on a Wednesday/All the way around till Sunday/You’ve always got me on the good days/And the bad days and the mad days/The happy and the sad days/You’ve got me every day of my life”. Mary Beth requested that Steven record a cover of the next song. It is ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’, written by Charlie and Craig Reid. It was the lead single from The Proclaimers’ 1988 album SUNSHINE ON LEITH and was a #1 hit in Australia and New Zealand and hit #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Steven’s cover is energetic Celtic pop with John Guilotin on the Wurlitzer. It’s a song about commitment: “When I come home, yeah I know I’m gonna be/I’m gonna be the man who comes back home to you/And if I grow old well I know I’m gonna be/I’m gonna be the man who’s growing old with you.../But I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more/Just to be the man who walked 1,000 miles to fall down at your door”.
Mary Beth writes: “Why not celebrate the fact that as Christians we too can experience romantic love at the deepest levels?...It is time that godly relationships are modeled in front of our children”. ‘Echoes of Eden’ is an easy listening track that uses strings and is moving: “What is it about a kiss that makes me feel like this?/Oh, oh/What is it that makes my heart beat fast when I’m in your arms?/Oh, oh/What is it about your touch that amazes me so much?.../These are the echoes of Eden/Reflections of what we were created for/Hints of the passion and freedom/That waits on the other side of heaven’s door/These are the echoes of Eden”. On ‘Holding a Mystery’, Steven is a grateful man: “The beating of your heart is calling out to me/Only a God of endless wisdom, love, and mercy/Could have created such a wonder as you”.
Steven writes of ‘We Will Dance’: “I wrote this song just before our 16th wedding anniversary as a gift to Mary Beth to say how thankful I am that she is my partner for life in this strange and wonderful dance called marriage”. The song is easy listening and a heart-tugger: “In winter’s chill or summer’s breeze one thing will not be changing/We will dance when the sun is shining in the pouring rain/We’ll spin and we’ll sway/And we will dance when the gentle breeze becomes a hurricane/The music will play and I’ll take your hand and hold you close to me/And we will dance”. Tim Pierce plays electric guitar on the happy pop song ‘We Belong Together (Tarzan and Jane)’. It speaks of how opposites attract: “I am Tarzan, you are Jane/I am night and you are the day/We’re like sunshine and rain/We’re so different from each other/You are woman, I am man/You are the sea and I am the land/And I would not be who I am if I didn’t have you/I know that some days we both wonder how/We ever got together”.
Mary Beth writes: “Steven never goes to sleep without giving me a good-night kiss, even when I’m already asleep, and he always kisses me before he leaves the house”. ‘With Every Little Kiss’ finds Steven smitten: “With every little kiss I’m reminded/How wonderful it is to be in love with you/With every little look/With every little touch/With every little kiss/Like a moth being drawn to a candle/This is something I can’t resist/I guess you could say I’m addicted”. Steven, Scott Sheriff, and Michael Mellett sing background vocals on ‘Miracle of You’. On it, Steven declares his noble intentions: “Like a masterpiece that’s waiting to be discovered/Like a treasure that is waiting to be found/There is so much unseen beauty in the heart of you/And I want to be the one to bring it out/Cause in the whole wide world there’s no one else who will ever want to love you any better”.
Archie Jordan and Glenn Sutton wrote ‘I’ll Take Care of You’. Ronnie Milsap originally recorded it in 1984, the year Steven and Mary Beth were married. Steven’s version is light jazz in nature. Here are the opening words: “I’ll take care of you/Don’t be sad, don’t be blue/I’ll never break your heart in two/I’ll take care of you/I’ll kiss your tears away/I’ll end your lonely days/All that I’m really tryin’ to say is/I’ll take care of you”. Next up is an updated version of Steven’s classic ‘I Will Be Here’ which first appeared on 1989’s MORE TO THIS LIFE. Matt Rollins plays piano on this terrific new version and the London Session Orchestra is used. It’s a ballad of commitment: “Tomorrow morning if you wake up/And the sun does not appear/I, I will be here/If in the dark we lose sight of love/Hold my hand and have no fear/Cause I, I will be here”.
‘Moment Made for Worshipping’ uses a choir and the chorus has typical CCM lyrics: “This is a moment made for worshipping/Cause this is a moment I’m alive/This is a moment I was made to sing/A song of living sacrifice/For every moment that I live and breathe/This is a moment made for worshipping”. Last up is ‘When Love Takes You In’, about adoption, from 2001’s DECLARATION. It’s a beautiful ballad: “When love takes you in everything changes/A miracle starts with the beat of a heart/And this love will never let you go/There is nothing that could ever cause this love to lose its hold”.
There is sometimes a double standard in music. When a mainstream market artist who happens to be a Christian, such as Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, or B.J. Thomas, sings mainly secular fare and some gospel songs, it is usually acceptable to their fan base. However, when a Contemporary Christian Music artist sings mainly about God, but then does some songs or albums that are just about life, but doesn’t mention God or Jesus, they are sometimes criticized. Just ask Amy Grant for one! I think this is wrong! With ALL ABOUT LOVE Steven Curtis Chapman put out a smart pop album of love songs that is easily accessible. But some non-believers won’t give it a listen because it’s by a Christian market artist. The main message of this magnificent and lengthy album is one of being totally committed and dedicated to one’s spouse-both during the warm and tingly times and the harder times. I’m rating this one 98%. For more info visit: www.stevencurtischapman.com.