Contemporary Christian singer/songwriter Colton Dixon’s sophomore album, Anchor, showcases a satisfying palette of styles and sounds, putting the former American Idol contestant’s vocal and songwriting range on full display. Thematically and sonically, Anchor improves on Dixon’s already impressive debut, proving that Dixon may very well have a long and storied career ahead of him.
After the one-minute teaser that is S.O.S.,Anchor opens with Our Time is Now, a frantic guitar-driven Christian rock anthem that exhorts the listener to use one’s time wisely to do great things for Christ. “Now let the old die, ’cause there is new life, forever starts tonight, our time is now!” Dixon sings confidently. Walk on the Waves, another surefire crowd-pleaser–I can’t help but surmise that Dixon planned the song selection on songs that would sound fantastic in big venues, but that’s just me–in turn, encourages the listener to trust in God’s provision and power to keep us strong as we continue to live for Him.
Anchor starts off with a delicate piano line, but rapidly grows into another big rock anthem, with driving drums and electric guitars dominating the sonic landscape. Not significantly unlike Never Gone, the title track is easily one of the best tracks on the album. It is followed by Echo, which, actually, is my favorite track on Anchor. Easily singable and irresistibly tempered by pulsating synths and passionate drums, with that unforgettable chorus, where Dixon declares, I wanna be an echo of You, the track even features a brief audio clip from You Are, Dixon’s debut Christian single that made the Top 10. In my opinion, Echo would be the logical follow-up single to More of You, the first single and Top 10 hit, which follows Echo after the brief, unusual, and exotic audio break, 35.8438-86.5418.
More of You makes for a great radio single, and it paid off for the multi-talented Dixon, who scored a second Top 10 hit with it. The tracks that follow, Loud and Clear and Fool’s Gold, are both equally rock-oriented tracks that will easily find a home at Christian CHR if given the opportunity. I like, in particular, the hook of the latter track: Take off the blindfold, don’t fall for fool’s gold,” as Dixon encourages us to discern what is God’s and what isn’t.
The chorus of Dare to Believe, which follows Fool’s Gold, is my favorite of the entire album. I will dare to believe that You are the Savior living in me, and I know You always will be the God of the impossible, the God of every miracle, here for the world to see, I dare to believe!” Instantly accessible and likeable from the get-go, Dare to Believe is another highlight.
Worship ballad Through All Of It returns Colton to familiar adult contemporary territory, which skews the line of the music Dixon chose to sing during his time on American Idol. But it’s spare, and it’s gorgeous. Against the large rockscapes that Dixon chose to paint on most of the album, Through All Of It stands out for its lush orchestra arrangement and spine-tingling harmonies. Frankly, I would have preferred this be the album closer instead of This Isn’t the End–especially since Limitless and Back to Life two more power rock anthems that Dixon effortlessly delivers after Through All of It seem oddly placed after the quiet leanings of Through All of It but the Switchfoot-esque leanings of This Isn’t the End, as well as its message, do make for a strong statement.
And “strong statement” is indeed what Anchor does. Dixon’s maiden effort showed us what he was capable of; his sophomore release is a pleasing tapestry of the risks that he is willing to take and pull off with integrity and authenticity. Throughout the album, clearly, the foundation, the anchor, if you will, is Dixon’s faith. At the end of the day, and even the album, it’s clear who is the star of the show: Jesus. The lyrics throughout the album place Jesus on the throne on which He deserves to be, and Dixon is glad to point the spotlight back to His Savior.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of Colton Dixon’s Anchor for review purposes. No other compensation was given; all opinions are my own. Anchor is available at all House of Praise outlets for only Php495.