Best known as the powerhouse lead vocalist for one of Gospel’s most acclaimed and awarded groups, The Crabb Family, Jason Crabb’s career has already been an incredible ride. While garnering multiple Dove Awards, three GRAMMY ® nominations and 16 #1 singles with his family, Jason has become one of the Christian music community’s most acclaimed vocalists. His unique sound finds him on stages that range from The Grand Ole Opry and national youth conference platforms to a sweet Sunday service at an old country church as well as performances with the legendary Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. This year marks the release of his self-titled, national solo debut, produced by Tommy Sims, Norro Wilson and Gordon Mote, three of the music industry’s most acclaimed producers. Featuring a cameo appearance by one of Jason’s heroes, Vince Gill, the recording finds Jason doing exactly what he loves with a soulful, heartfelt approach that his fans love to hear.
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Jason Crabb [Jason Crabb]| Posted June 28, 2009 [MAIN REVIEW]
I was first introduced to The Crabb Family in 2004 when someone from our church performed the song, “That’s No Mountain”. I was so moved by the message of the song that I decided to look for more from this group. I was quite surprised to find that Crabb Family’s large collection of songs were a plenty. “Please Come Down to Me”, “Please Forgive Me” and one song that’s message has really helped me through times in my life that I really needed to know that the Lord was there. A reminder that He was there to help me through those tough times, to know that I wouldn’t go through the fights alone, that through Him I could come through the fire and be whole on the other side. The song in which I speak, “Through the Fire” was released on the Crabb Family’s 1999 release Pray and is perhaps one of my favorite songs of all-time. Written by Gerald Crabb, the song’s popularity has grown over the years, especially when performed by his oldest son, Jason.
June 30, 2009 marks a special day for Jason, whose self-titled solo CD releases to the masses. While I can admit that I am not really what you would call a true country/bluegrass fan, I was quite impressed with the album. While I am familiar with the catalog of Crabb releases, I was hoping that Jason’s solo CD would follow the same path and would be something that I would enjoy just as much. I can’t say that I am disappointed to say the least. In fact, the album exceeds everything I thought it would be. Jason and his fellow siblings have enjoyed much success and accolades over the years, being involved with many other ministries along the way. Some of those include, according the album bio, “…performing at Carnegie Hall, become a ‘fan favorite’ at the Grand Ole Opry, appeared regularly on the Gaither Homecoming Series videos, and was honored to sing for the Rev. Billy Graham’s farewell crusade in New York City.”
Jason’s solo debut is nothing less than unforgettable. Vocally, Jason could be compared to the low, gritty vocals comparable to early Bob Segar with perhaps a bit of soul and vibrance of Michael Bolton thrown in. Now just to kind of introduce the album, none of the songs on the record were written by Jason, which normally would be something that doesn’t really impress me initially about the artist. I am impressed most by artists who write their own music, play their own instruments and can sing those songs live just like the record plays. Jason however is a different case. I think the songs chosen for his solo album were great choices, being able to highlight his unique and soulful voice.
The opener “Somebody Like Me”, was quite fitting to use as an intro to the album. The message was one that is all-to-familiar in the church today. Church should be a refuge. A sanctuary where the sinner can come to find Christ, find repentance, to find acceptance among God’s people. Sometimes that is not always the case as this song’s message depicts. It’s sad but true. As the body of Christ, we’re to reach out to those who the world rejects and throws away. That’s Jesus to the world. One of the co-writers of the song caught my attention too, being Michael Boggs, guitarist from the CCM group FFH (Far From Home).
Jason’s cover of the Cathedrals-penned “Daystar” is impressive as well. For so many years I was used to hearing this song sung by the Gaither Vocal Band, thinking the whole time it was written by Bill Gaither. I mean, isn’t all the biggest songs in southern Gospel written by Gaither? Lol. Just kidding! No seriously, I really enjoyed Jason’s take on the song. Its lyrics are just so beautiful and encouraging to any believer seeking to live in the light of God’s grace. The chorus and its worshipful yearning for God’s light of grace and love to shine down on us says it all. This song is one of those examples of how Jason’s vocals are somewhat similar to that of 80-90’s artist Michael Bolton.
“Lead me Lord, I'll follow anywhere You open up the door / Let Your word speak to me, show me what I've never seen before / Lord I long to be Your witness, You can take what's wrong and make it right / Daystar shine down on me, let Your love shine through me in the night”
Now I couldn’t write a review on this album and not talk about “Through the Fire”. This song is an amazing piece of lyrical art. The song was originally recorded by the Crabb Family and has gone through quite a few changes over the years. This is actually the second time Jason has recorded it solo, the first being a more urban Gospel track then onto the ‘Egyptian-version’ (as I call it) on this release. I still prefer the 1999 original, but I like how Jason was able to re-tool it and really mold it in and around his unique vocals. It definitely brings out the best in performance and truly shows what he’s capable of. This is another song that’s chorus really encourages me personally, reminding me as a Christian man, that God never promised that my life’s road would be without trials and tribulations, but through Christ I could come out on top. (Philippians 4:13)
“He never promised that the cross would not get heavy / And the hill would not be hard to climb / He never offered our victories without fighting / But He said help would always come in time / Just remember when you’re standing in the valley of decision / And the adversary says give in / Just hold on, our Lord will show up / And He will take you through the fire again”
The next track, “Sometimes I Cry” was a gem on the album too. The song, penned by Jason’s father Gerald, was truly inspiring. It should serve as a reminder to the ‘ladies in our lives’ that although we are the strong, handsome and fearless men in their lives, we have feelings and we’re people too! Even as Christian men and the challenges we face daily, being the man of the house, the one who God holds most accountable, is not always easy. Yeah, we might play off that everything is alright, but deep down inside we yearn to being acceptable in God’s sight and doing things right and His way. I could relate especially to the part in the chorus that says “Sometimes I can’t get it right no matter how hard I seem to try / Sometimes I fall down stumble over my own disguise”. I think I have heard my wife even say that out loud! Wow, was Gerald writing about me? It’s funny how a song could mirror yourself that it almost has you believing that it was written about you!
One of the more personal and definitely the most touching song on the album would be the slower tune, “Ellsworth”. Definitely the country ballad of the album in my opinion. The story hits close to home with Jason, who says “Ellsworth” is “the kind of song that sticks in your heart and reminds you how precious life is, everybody wants a love like that, and to see it in that story... well, it’s just a powerful thing.” Jason’s wife Shellye has a grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s, so to pick the song for the album was like a tribute to her and to help encourage those who are in similar situations with family. I was reminded of other similar stories told in both film (“The Notebook”) and in song, (Mark Schultz’ “Walking Her Home”) when listening to this one. Country star Vince Gill (husband of Amy Grant) also brings his unique vocals to the background in this tune.
The closing numbers, “No Love Lost” written by former White Heart bassist Tommy Sims and “Forever’s End” slowed things down a bit to end out the album. Both of these songs, as good as they are, almost feel out of place though. While most of Jason’s album comprises of country-flavored tunes, these were the two that almost have an 80’s adult contemporary feeling to them, rather then the country feel. An interesting fact -- I didn’t know until reading up about Tommy Sims, that he was a co-writer of Eric Clapton’s hit song “Change the World” from the Phenomenon movie soundtrack. Clapton was an artist and song I grew up listening to and who I have had the privilege of seeing a few times in concert. He has also served as producer for groups like Natalie Grant, Marvin Winans and Israel and New Breed.
While the last two sound different from the rest, I did think that it was a good way to end the album. Almost as if it were a way to maybe introduce what will come next in Jason’s solo career? Who knows, but I can truly say that the hour or so I spent listening to this album was refreshing to me. When most of the music found on my iPod these days hover around the hard rock scene of Christian music, it’s always good to ‘stumble’ over a project that can help you truly admire and respect a genre of music you normally don’t tune into. Not really into country or southern Gospel music? I would give this one a try still. I think anyone can find a song or two on here that will get them movin’ and singin’ along!
Be sure to check out Jason on the upcoming July 14th release, Glory Revealed II: The Word of God in Worship. Jason sings together with Needtobreathe’s Bear Rinehart and Jonathan Shelton on the song, “Wake Up, Oh Sleeper”. Be sure to check out Jason on a few of these YouTube videos too. Check out the “Daystar” video here*. Check out the montage video for “Through the Fire” here*.
“If there was ever a question of whether or not Jason Crabb could be successful and survive as a solo artist, this debut album from the Crabb Family’s oldest sibling speaks volumes of what he is capable of bringing forth. Long considered to many fans and critics alike as one of the most gifted and talented male vocalists of this generation, Jason Crabb brings those fans another reason to shout and sing and… bring praise to God at the same time”