Eliminated from American Idol Season 11 in 7th place, pop/CCM artist Colton Dixon has been making waves within the CCM industry ever since his highly-publicised crossover hit of a first album A Messenger, that debuted in 2013 to critical acclaim. Using the same platform as many artists, like Carrie Underwood, Danny Gokey, Mandisa, Jason Castro, Daughtry, Kelly Clarkson and Kris Allen; to start a career in music; Colton’s unexpected exit from the show was more of a blessing in disguise. Signing a record deal with Sparrow Records, and 2 albums later, Colton, alongside Mandisa, has been one of the most successful and greatest finds, out of anyone who has moved from American Idol to Christian music, ever. With much success, both critically and commercially, Colton, though only in his mid-twenties, writes and sings way beyond his years, so much so that his two successful albums A Messenger and Anchor were released within 1 and a half years of each other. Now he has journeyed into the unknown with his new album Identity, releasing March 24th- sure he still has his trademark pop-rock-radio sound, but this album is different from the rest- less rock than Anchor and much more dance and 1980s style music that is incorporated throughout his power-pop anthems in this 11 track album (17 in the deluxe edition).
Immediately after his exit from American Idol, Colton announced his signing to Sparrow Records, and it was reminded to his fans that it was his faith during the show and his tenure on it that led him to be unique in his songwriting, setting him apart from just about every other contestant of that particular year. Many of his fans and critics alike either respected or even questioned his motives when he finally did announce that he was moving into Christian music- even I was sceptical during that time, I thought he was going to sign to a mainstream label and play rock/pop. Nevertheless, people thought that signing to a Christian label would be career-limiting, yet we are now reminded- 2 albums and 2 EP’s later, of Colton’s first priority through his music- to convey the message of Christ, and this is shown quite well in Identity!
Just one look at the standard and deluxe editions of Identity and I’m sure I know which one you would pick. At a whopping 17 tracks, Colton’s Identity (Deluxe Edition) is the way to go- as the album takes us all on a journey of sorts, with three instrumental tracks uniquely titled “Mind”, “Body” and “Spirit” throughout the track list, creating some sort of cohesiveness as we hear the album from start to finish. Even “All That Matters”, a song that is great in its own right (about how it is only Christ that matters in this life- and everything else will fade away); isn’t necessarily the song that I gravitate to when I hear the album (yes, I do have the pre-release copy of Identity, and let me tell you, this is well worth your money- another 5/5 album rating that I’m going to give Colton).
Songs like “Warriors”, “Brand New Life”, “I Would Choose You”, “Humans” and “No Greater Love” have all usurped “All That Matters” as songs that I have enjoyed much more than Colton’s first single from Identity– which doesn’t speak to the sub-par quality of “All That Matters” but rather the power and poignancy of all these 5 songs, and a reminder that Identity and its encouraging impact that I believe it’ll have on millions of people who hear the album come March 24th is far beyond the age that Colton is now. Only in his mid-twenties, one listen to the album and you can appreciate the maturity he has undertaken over the years- his writing is as poignant and emotive as anyone else that has been in the Christian industry for a long time. Identity is my favourite album from Colton, and if Colton’s songwriting continues like this, then his next album will always be better than the one before!
Maybe you can take my word for it and buy the album when it drops on March 24th. Maybe you need more convincing, and you’ll listen to snippets from iTunes and listen to the album on Spotify millions of times before you make a decision. But whatever the case, Colton is perhaps one of today’s most encouraging and uplifting CCM artists of day. Maybe not necessarily the most popular (leave that to artists like UNITED, Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe, Lecrae etc…you know the picture), but that I’m sure doesn’t matter to Colton. Identity is full of different musical styles, and unique musical representations that I’m sure Colton has never ventured into before. This is a different project from Colton, and that is ok. Not your average CCM album, I’m all but certain that Identity will be nominated for a Dove Award in the Rock/Contemporary Album category when the nominations are revealed in August 2017.
Enough rambling about how much I enjoy listening to Identity. Check out “All That Matters” below. And maybe, just maybe, when March 24th comes, you can listen to what I reckon is one of my favourite albums of 2017 thus far. But who am I to say? Hear Identity in a month or so’s time and make up your own mind. What I will say is this- Colton’s come a long way since A Messenger, having, I reckon, the most growth musically and in a songwriting way within the 4 years signed to Capitol CMG. Identity is proof of this. Now, off to hear all of Colton’s discography to get me in the mood for March 24th!
Release Date: March 24th 2017
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
Colton Dixon- Identity
Track Listing: [DELUXE EDITION ONLY]
- THE MIND (Instrumental) [DELUXE]
- All That Matters
- Brand New Life
- THE BODY (Instrumental) [DELUXE]
- In My Veins [DELUXE]
- I Would Choose You
- Warriors [DELUXE]
- THE SPIRIT (Instrumental) [DELUXE]
- No Greater Love
- The Other Side
- AUTOPSY [DELUXE]