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Gary Chapman

The Truth – 2013 (Elevate)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Gary Chapman

Gary Chapman was once known in some quarters as Mr. Amy Grant, in spite of his many Dove Awards, successful solo albums and songwriting credits for Kenny Rogers, Alabama, Wynonna and others. But because Grant is now more star-power-ly equally yoked, thanks to marrying Vince Gill, Chapman is much less associated with yesteryear's queen of Christian music.

With help from a few A-list country stars, like Allison Krauss and John Rich, Chapman is making a play for country music's Bible belt with "The Truth." Stylistically, Chapman's voice has a timbre comparable to Larry Gatlin, and songs he's written for this project are lyrically similar to Gatlin's (simple, sincere and fundamentalist-leaning). Ain't Got a Prayer speaks of the necessary inclusion of Jesus-centricity in any Christian walk, while How Great a God is a reminder about God's consistent love in contrast to humanity's inconsistency.

Chapman doesn't do anything radical musically on this album. Safe from the Wind is built upon a descending electric guitar riff, empathetic and insistent piano and an adult contemporary pop music arrangement with just the hint of steel guitar. The rest of the project pretty much follows suit.

This album saves its best moment for last as Tanya Tucker -whose voice, with its gravelly lower register, has sure seen better days -- is joined by Rich for The Rough Crowd, a song that lyrically takes Jesus' words about refraining from casting the first stone seriously. These empathetic lines are placed over a winning mandolin-highlighted arrangement.

"The Truth" will provide comfort for those that share Chapman's Christian beliefs, without offending nonbelievers. It's sold, but not spectacular.