The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Steven Curtis Chapman opens his new album singing, “Heaven is the face of a little girl,” and you know he’s going to go there.
Beauty Will Rise is Chapman’s first new album since the tragic death of his 5-year-old adopted daughter Maria Sue Chunxi in May 2008. The proverbial “they” say great pain often yields great art, and this album certainly reinforces that point, in part by making it clear that Chapman would give everything, including his great songs, to have his little girl give him another hug and syrup kiss.
But the Chapman does not wallow in despair on this album. A palpable sense of loss pervades the entire record, but there is also an open window to the soul of a man who is finding a way to move on and whose faith has been strengthened through every parent’s nightmare.
On Just Have to Wait, he talks to Maria, telling her how he looks forward to seeing her again and how the family is doing — even dealing with the aftermath of her death. There is striking five-song set of expressions of faith beginning with Our God is Control and concluding with Jesus Will Meet You There – “When you think you’ve hit the bottom, and the bottom gives way . . . “
Instrumentally, this is Chapman’s most unadorned, elemental recording in years, beautifully employing cello, dulcimer and other bits of acoustic comfort. We hear him in full command of his craft, all the better to articulate tough emotions that could easily become saccharine and cloying in a lesser artist’s hands.
This record will never be an easy listen. It will never be separated from the sorrow that was its catalyst. But it is a journey you are richer for taking, from those difficult first words to the final moments when the voices of a children’s chorus rise in Spring is Coming.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich