Colton Dixon is perhaps best known as the Mohawk styled Tennessee local who appeared on American Idol Season 11. His first album A Messenger was the No. 1 selling album by a new Christian Artist in 2013, and his distinct tones and look have marked him as one of the best up and coming Christian artists in the genre.
Opening with the sounds of an “S.O.S.” call, Dixon ushers in an intensity that thrusts the album into a rock infused tale about the purpose of life. Synth, electro and voice over push for a crossover into “Our Time Is Now,” and the fast pace of a rock tune rich in electric guitar and a booming drum will get your heart racing.
Saying, “Now let the old die, ‘cause there is new life, forever starts from now,” this song, which in essence acts as the opening track, is an anthem that allows Dixon’s pop tones to excel. High in energy and with a melody that is both memorable and perfect for the radio, this track shows us that the 23 year old will only get bigger and better with each subsequent release.
Following on with “Walk On The Waves,” the spirituality of the singer comes to the forefront in this modern retelling of what it means to live by faith. The consistency of electric guitar gives this tune the oomph it needs to really impact the listener, and the veracity of Colton’s vocals in the chorus makes it more than a mere CMM ballad, but rather a bold and triumphant plea to the listener and prayer to God.
“Anchor” brings the tempo down, and light piano tones give you the feeling of being afloat on water. Bringing in a strong percussion section, the seemingly delicate track delves into a pure rock melody with the addition of a brilliantly delivered string section. His voice soars as he sings, “I need an anchor,” this is a follow up to the previous track in the sense that it mirrors our prayers of desperation when we struggle to keep our faith in varying circumstances.
The pop vibe rises again in “Echo,” and a solid melody that allows Dixon to exercise his range and rise into his false etto means this track adds a new facet to the album. Less hard-rock and more gentle and sweet to the ear in the storytelling tone of the song, it’s nice to hear Colton straddle the world between rock and pop, not fully committing to either, but showing a strength in both and showcasing his talent and ability to gain popularity in different markets.
“35.8438, -86.4518” acts a bridge to the second half of the album, and tribal sounds create a sharp divide as we enter into the sounds of lead single, “More Of You.” Causing waves in CCM land, this is an undeniably strong track. Pop infused with Dixon’s trademark intensity, I admire the delivery of this song because it goes beyond what is expected. As a CCM release it ticks all the boxes: the lyrics are truthful, the melody is catchy, and Christians flock to it. But beyond this, it is a powerful song that escalates to an anthem that prompts people to step into a moment of worship and true surrender. With a melody that will stick in your head and innately make you feel good for singing along, this was an obvious choice for a single.
Stepping into “Loud And Clear,” sharp rock tones are delivered through the electric guitar, and an authoritative voice similar in style to Evermore’s “Truth of the World,” clears the space for Dixon to command a compelling song. There is a purity and strength to Colton’s voice, which enables him to deliver this song with authority and conviction. Less capable singers would quickly become lost in the intensity of the instrumental, but we find Dixon coexists with this neatly and drives home the message of the song.
Techno and synth sounds open “Fools Gold,” and the harsh resonance of a melancholy song work to create a new page in the story of this album. A little haunting and dark in its use of minor chords, the nature of the lyrics as he says, “Take off your blindfold,” make this a bold and compelling track. Designed to make the listener feel uncomfortable and take a good, hard look at the lies of the world, it is ultimately a song that thrives on confronting the truth.
“Dare to Believe” is gold to a pop lover like me. Drums, electric guitar and keyboard all mesh to orchestrate a beautiful and uplifting song about Dixon’s journey to faith. Acoustic guitar bridges the gap between chorus and verse, and the lyrics tell the story of Christ is a real and personable way. This, more than any other song, shows the true stripes of Dixon as he boldly declares, “You are the Son of God, You lived and died for us.” Props to him for his amazing declaration of faith; he leaves no room to hide behind morality or religiosity, and tears down any potential façade. The layering of vocals at the end are reminiscent of an awe inspiring Disney melody right before the fireworks go off, and the authenticity of this track is what makes it so good.
“Through All Of It” is a beautiful and moving track and was recently used as a tribute to Charleston. Strings and piano mould a ballad that points the listener to the might and provision of God amidst trouble. This could be an album filler as people would naturally gravitate towards its message, yet Colton makes this a simultaneously strong and delicate song that truly reflects the heartbreak we experience.
Following on with “Limitless,” the slower tempo continues as the verses set the stage for an empowering chorus that resounds with a message that we are capable of doing more than we could possibly imagine in faith. Saying “Fear sees the ceiling, hope sees the stars,” this is a special track that hit a chord with me and dared me to dream again.
Rock chords open “Back To Life,” and Dixon again balances deep and insightful verses with a daring and convicting chorus. Tech sounds give a depth to the tune that recounts how God “turned up in the nick of time,” and consistently resurrects us from the darkness. In what is quite a masculine song, the words, “I need a hero,” mean Dixon pushes the box on what it truly means to be a strong male, and in this way we see him redefining modern Christianity’s perception of masculinity.
Finishing up with “This Isn’t The End,” the unusual sounds of a xylophone or ethnic instrument usher in an empowering pop anthem that ties up any loose ends. The chorus shows Dixon in his element, and as he joins with the electric guitar in delivering the message “your story isn’t over,” the chorus is the highlight.
His sophomore release, Colton Dixon’s Anchor will grow on you with each subsequent listen. Stepping fiercely into the realm of rock with the strong guitar rifts and beats, he shows the ability to rock a pop song and delve headlong into the heart of a moving ballad. Authentic, bold and riveting, this album depicts a singer unafraid to show the world his strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately his faith in God.