Release Date: April 28th 2023
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Build a Boat
- My Light
- Hold On To Hope
- Build a Boat (feat. Gabby Barrett)
Colton Dixon has been a staple and a veteran within the CCM scene nowadays. Since his burst into CCM music after his American Idol exit in 2012, alongside chart-topping songs like “You Are”, “Never Gone” and “More of You” to name a few; Colton’s exposure to the industry has come alongside maturity. Even in his most recent full-length 2017 album Identity that birthed the singles “All That Matters”, “I Would Choose You”, “No Greater Love” and “The Other Side”, Colton delivered arguably what I believe was one of 2017’s best- in either CCM or mainstream. Using the same platform as many artists (American Idol, from artists like Carrie Underwood, Danny Gokey, Mandisa, and Jason Castro, to Daughtry, Kelly Clarkson and Kris Allen), to start a career in music; Colton’s unexpected exit from American Idol was more of a blessing in disguise. Signing a record deal with Sparrow Records (and subsequent leaving), and 3 full length albums later, Colton has been one of the most successful and greatest finds, out of anyone who has moved from American Idol to Christian music, ever. Colton unveiled his ‘comeback’ EP in 2020, since Colton’s own departure from Sparrow Records (Colton’s record home is now Atlantic Records, home to artists like Skillet, Ava Max, Coldplay, Charlie Puth, Ella Henderson, Rob Thomas, and Jess Glynne, to name a few); and though only a five track EP, was still one of 2020’s most enjoyable and compelling, with songs like “Miracles”, “Can’t Quit You” and “Devil is a Liar”. We as a site, reviewed the EP. And now around a few years since that release, Colton has released something new again. His brand-new EP Canvas, including his chart topping single “Build A Boat”, is one of my favourite EP’s of the year. And though we may not know when another full-length album is coming, these 6 brand new songs remind us of Colton’s staying power and his prowess as a singer and a songwriter.
Opening the track list with the extremely relatable “Build A Boat”, the 3-minute acoustic guitar ballad is inspired by the Biblical Old Testament account of Noah and how he was obedient to the Lord’s call, for building a boat. Even though it was, on the surface, nonsense, something that didn’t make sense in the moment, Noah still obeyed God; and in this song, Colton reminds us that to step out in faith is to step out into the unknown, about moving into territory that we may not comprehend or understand at the moment. The light and breezy melody speaks about obedience, and the fact that we should obey God because it was He who has called in the first place. It’s a song that is a reminder that it is because God who tells us go, that we go- but not because of what we believe to be within our own timeframe, or what we believe is something that we need to do (and thus use the Lord to ‘rubberstamp’ our own idea). Instead, we should indeed follow God because we know that He knows so much more of the plan of our lives than we might even comprehend or dare to dream. “Build a Boat” reminds me thematically about “Crazy People” from Casting Crowns’s Healer– building a boat ‘in a desert place’ can seem crazy to people on the outside looking in; and may seem crazy to ourselves as well. But all in all, God calls us to step out and activate crazy faith, and if it’s God who has called (and we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is God, and not just ourselves or even the devil), then all we do, is to step out and do it, regardless of how ‘crazy’ it can seem to people who may not know us, or even people who may know us well. A song that can hopefully allow us to be bold with courage to undertake the things of the Lord, regardless of how we ‘look’ to others; Colton also eloquently delivers a stirring duet with country singer Gabby Barrett as the album closer, with the rest of the track list delving deep into matters of faith, fatherhood, and life as a travelling musician.
“My Light”, a powerful, hard-hitting, and explosive pop anthem, speaks about surrender to God in the most hopeless of situations, with Colton expressing that “…over the last couple of years, we’ve all been in a dark place. It was like, ‘Man, I’m not sure if the world will come back’. In my case, I didn’t know if I’d ever tour again. The twins were born in the same year I lost my main source of income—which is touring. It was scary. If I’ve ever been afraid, I know there’s someone who loves me and will guide me through – God is my light, but we all can relate to people in our lives that help strengthen us as well and keep us going. It’s such a fun song but its message is what I love most about it…”. “Giants”, an uplifting and encouraging melody, speaks about standing taller than the ‘giants’ in our lives, and remembering that we can be the David to the Goliath-like adversities in our lives, and we can indeed see our circumstances change for the better with Jesus Christ on our side; while Colton once again delivers probably one of the most personal and honest songs he’s recorded within the past few years- with the title track reminding us that Jesus is the author of our lives, and that He is the Painter and we are the canvas. “Hold On To Hope”, a vibrant and revitalising track about holding onto hope in the darkest of situations, speaks about trusting in Jesus and believing in greater things in store for us than the mundane and whatever is in our lives at the moment. While Colton ends the EP with the radio friendly pop/rock song “Unbreakable”, where Colton inspires us and reminds us that with Jesus, ‘…I’ve walked through fire and didn’t burn, treaded some water, but I emerged, rose up like a dead man in the dirt, that’s when I learned I am unbreakable…’.
It’s kind of turned into my mantra [the theme of the Canvas EP]. Not just as an artist, but as a believer, as a husband, as a dad. The whole meaning of the song is that every day is a blank canvas, it’s a clean slate. For me personally, I just want God to tell his story through me. But, I think we can all relate… we all have someone or something that turns your mess and makes it something beautiful.
The Bible says, ‘He’ll turn that, which is meant for evil, and turn it for our good’. Do I look back at all of those things and think God was trying to ‘teach me a lesson’? No. But I do think they are opportunities for our faith to grow stronger, and I think He will absolutely use those situations to better our relationship, and to grow us closer together. On one hand, I’m thankful for the hard times, because they have grown my faith and taught me that I can put my trust in God. It’s like… I went through this hard thing, this crazy circumstance, and this crazy season, but I’m still standing. So, if those things aren’t going to break me, then nothing will.
They [‘Christian’ fans] just don’t really know how to act at a concert. They’re used to church. A lot of the places we go into, it’s not like your modern non-denominational or ‘charismatic’ church. They’re just kind of in their shell even though there is someone ‘demonstrating’. A few years ago, those types of crowds would have impacted me negatively. I’d come offstage and be almost angry. I’d be like, ‘Man, I’m pouring out my heart and soul, giving it 110% and they’re not giving me anything.’ But then I realized I am not there to be served; I am there to serve them regardless of how it looks. I feel like God has called me to this city or put these songs in my heart for them. That’s kind of where I have to rest. I’m there to serve them. I’m there to do it, and I’m happy to do it.
Colton Dixon is one of today’s most prolific, inspiring, and honest pop/rock artists- both in mainstream and in CCM. I haven’t really been that connected with his music throughout the past- Jon has reviewed many of his albums. But this EP has struck me as one of the most important releases he has recorded. It isn’t known what Colton will release next. But his passion for Jesus rings true here and his mission to see the lost saved ever more prevalent than on this EP. Perhaps there is a live album or a Christmas album coming. But until the next release, let’s bask in the knowledge that Colton’s music is food and water for this soul, and let’s congratulate him for a job well done! Well done, Colton, looking forward to whatever the Lord has in store, in the upcoming weeks and months ahead.
3 songs to listen to: Giants, Hold On To Hope, Build A Boat (feat. Gabby Barrett)
RIYL: Tenth Avenue North, OneRepublic, MercyMe, needtobreathe