American Idol has an interesting track record with contestants. In recent years, few have gone on to become successful artists, but Season 10 remains a shining point of this decade. Both Phillip Phillips and Colton Dixon have gone on to become upcoming household names in their respective genres. This week, Colton Dixon released his sophomore album, Anchor, and it is with much joy that I say it is a huge improvement over the already solid A Messenger, his debut effort. Let’s take a look at Anchor in a little more detail, as I show you why it is one of my absolute favorite works of 2014, and possibly one of my favorites of all Christian albums I’ve ever listened to.
Colton Dixon is quite recognizable for many reasons. His hair, onstage persona and style, distinctive voice, uplifting messages both in lyrics and in speech, and his sense of humor make him a new favorite in the Christian music world. Still, all of these reasons pale in comparison to the fact that he conveys important messages to young Christians everywhere through his music. In Anchor, many of these messages revolve around a maritime, oceanlike theme, as evidenced by the album’s title. Many of the tracks’ titles carry the theme, such as S.O.S., Walk On The Waves, Fool’s Gold, and even an interlude track with a set of coordinates, just as a sailor might use. (Fun fact: these coordinates lead you to Colton’s hometown!)
Seeing as though many sermons, devotionals, and songs carry a theme in order to drive a point home, it only makes sense that an album would do the same to keep a nice, cohesive message throughout. In this case, Anchor drives home the point that we need Christ because he holds fast to us; he is the anchor we need when we’re being tossed about by the world. The lyrics of the songs really drive the point home.
Anchor as an album tends to do this without coming off as cheesy, cliche, or overdone. The parallels drawn are hardly lame, and although there are a couple of instances in the lyrics where I think “eh, that’s been said before,” it is far more often than not that I’m impressed by the messages.
Just like “Let Them See You,” from A Messenger, “More Of You,” is a song that truly speaks to me, for example. Both songs cover a similar topic, and “More Of You” seems almost like an extension of the first. The lyrics signify what I and many other youth hope for and pray for. “More of you, less of me. Make me who I’m meant to be.” As it says in John 3:30, we must decrease so He may increase. I love that this song drives home a simple yet powerful point that’s easily understandable.
Other favorites as far as lyrics are concerned would be “Limitless,” “Fool’s Gold,” and “Echo,” which features a remarkable bridge to the chorus.
The main improvement that Anchor displays over A Messenger is that the album is more varied in sound. I feel as though A Messenger was somewhat repetitive, but Colton knocks that out of the water with Anchor. He really shows his versatility from the contemporary “Through All Of It,” to the hard rock, headbanging “Loud And Clear,” which is probably my favorite track on the album. He manages to throw in everything in between, including the rhythmic, anthem-like, “Our Time Is Now,” which is truly an energetic call to action for everyone listening, and it starts the album off on just the right foot. “This Isn’t The End,” and “Loud And Clear,” even manage to throw in some hip-hop and synthesizer sounds, which vary the songs even more.
Even though Anchor includes a little of many different speeds, instruments, and even genres to an extent, it manages to hold everything together in a package that flows very well, just as it was meant to be.
Furthermore, for what it’s worth, you have to admire the starpower on this album. Colton’s co-songwriters include tobyMac, Matthew West, Group 1 Crew, Trevor McNevan from Thousand Foot Krutch, and others. I would venture to say that this is partly where the diversity comes from, and it really works for Colton here.
In the end, Anchor is truly an impressive masterpiece, from the lyrics of action, encouragement, and faith, to the incredible range of sounds displayed on the tracks. This is not an album to be missed, and I can guarantee that you’ll want to see and hear these ones performed live at Winter Jam West this year. Trust me; I’ve heard Colton perform a couple of these live, and he’ll knock your socks off with his high-octance performances and meaningful messages between songs. Anchor provides more background for Colton to spread the messages of the Bible, and it is nearly a perfect example of what a Christian rock album sounds like.