Chris August [The Upside Of Down] | Posted August 02, 2012 Staff Reviewer
Chris August has really delivered a stellar new album, The Upside Of Down, his second for Fervent Records/Word. With an impressive sweep at the 42nd Annual Dove Awards, he earned awards for "New Artist of the Year" and "Male Vocalist of the Year," adding him to an elite group of only three artists in the history of the show who have received both awards. He also claimed the nod for "Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year" for his debut album No Far Away. The 14-track new album was co-produced by August alongside Ian Eskelin (Francesca Battistelli, Sidewalk Prophets).
It leads off with the infectious lead single, "Center Of It,” which picks up right where he left off and takes it up a notch musically as this album is loaded with musical hooks and what stands out the most to me are the messages of these ultra-catchy songs such as the vertical and prayerful lyrics from the opener: “when I rise, when I fall, You’ll be there through it all” right from Psalm 139. Amen! Rather than describe every song, let me just say this is one of the most captivating albums I’ve ever heard. Chris has a vocal sincerity and creativity that rivals Bebo Norman, Brandon Heath and Jason Gray, who are my top male singer-songwriters of all-time. Some of the stand-out moments of the album include “The Upside Of Down” where Chris brilliantly sings the biblical truth, “You are strength in my weakness,” and in the chorus “In the midst of the sadness, I’m closer to You now, that’s the upside of down.” The Kingdom of God confounds worldly expectations and is counter-cultural. As the opening tracks establish, it is in our weakness that we are closest to God.
I am a believer and my testimony is that my love for music led me to Jesus Christ due to the Gospel messages of Christian music. This is a great album for your unsaved family and friends. Another highlight is the poignant second verse of the worship anthem “Amen” where Chris confesses, “His Name is Jesus and His love redeems.” For me, the standout experience of this stellar album is hanging on every note of the gorgeous and moving “relationship” song, “Restore.” I’ve been married for eighteen years, and Chris beautifully phrases how to heal and restore marriages as followers of Jesus, “I propose to you the truth is, marriage does not have to die.” “God is a God Who knows how to heal, so just give it up to the Lord and He will restore.” Amen. August rounds out the album by sharing his observations about the need for reliance on Jesus both personally and in the Church with the other poignant songs “This Side Of Heaven,” “Let There Be Light,” “I Believe,” “1989,” “Unashamed of You” and “A Little More Jesus.” I am so captivated by this album and the bold messages. This is exactly the type of catchy, relevant and challenging contemporary music album for the Church that I have been praying for. I have to give it five stars and every song is incredible. Do yourself a favor and buy this entire album immediately.
The Upside Of Down by Chris August is one of the most compelling and lyrically transparent albums of the year. Chris has vaulted himself amongst the industry’s top singer-songwriters with an album that rivals the latest by Bebo Norman, Brandon Heath and Jason Gray. As it turns out, we only scratched the surface of August’s soulful, inspiring and meaningful storytelling with his GMA Dove Award winning debut album. If you want to be challenged, moved, and get deeper with Chris August, don’t miss out on this practically perfect album. Several of these songs are instant classics and for sure, August is the frontrunner for Pop/Contemporary Album, Artist, and Male Vocalist of the Year. As one of the tracks proclaims, “Amen, Amen, and the people said, Amen.”