[REVIEW] Identity by Colton Dixon


Identity (Deluxe Edition)

Colton Dixon

When singer/songwriter Colton Dixon first took the stage on American Idol, he immediately caught the nation’s attention. With his distinctive mohawk and rock-tinged pop vocals, the devout Christian was a favourite until his elimination.

Like many other ex-idol’s in the same boat, Dixon quickly signed on to a Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) label and began releasing very “Christian” music. 

It’s difficult not to be cynical when referring to the Christian genre. The quality of these songs, their artistic integrity and various artists’ authenticity are all questionable, which is why many Christian musicians steer clear of the CMM genre.

Then there’s Colton Dixon. 

Not only is this man unashamedly Christian, he’s also uber-talented. And with his pitch-perfect voice and rock-star persona, Dixon is redefining what it means to be a CCM artist. In fact, he may even be making Christianity cool for a new generation of teens – not unlike how DC Talk made it cool to be a “Jesus Freak” in the 90s.

Dixon’s third album Identity delivers what we’ve come to expect from him: catchy, positive tracks that reinforce the concept of God’s faithfulness and being set apart from the world. 

The title track bears all the marks of an artist on the verge of something incredible – the unique combination of bass, electronic tones and synth display Dixon’s artistry, and the lyrics bend towards becoming distinctly political when he says, “We won’t be told who we are by the nation or the stars.” This shows signs that in time, as a songwriter his lyrics could become as complex and significant to society as the work of Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman.

Breathe is darker than most of the tracks, alluding to depression or personal struggles that bring us to our knees. And The Other Side is an emotional ballad about grief and the promise of seeing our loved ones again.

The heavy is also balanced with the light: Brand New Life and No Greater Love are radio zingers that will put a bounce in your step, and the Biblical truths found in each song will genuinely empower you in your spiritual walk.

Identity is a great album, and the production and delivery is second to none. When it comes to CCM, this is the best-of-the-best. You could almost say this album is perfect to a fault – and that’s where any criticism lies. Because while nearly perfect, the lack of spiritual grit and aversion to wrestling with heavy topics means it won’t appeal to people outside of the CCM genre or mature Christians.

Split into three sections: body, soul and spirit, the deluxe edition introduces each set of 5-6 songs with an odd musical/techno introduction. Spoken word clarifies the intention of each segment, with the expectation that by listening to the entire album you will have a complete understanding of your identity in God. 

This is a great concept, but sadly the introduction to each section is cringe-worthy. While well produced, they lower the credibility of the album because they break up the musical narrative and set Dixon apart from his peers outside the CCM genre who are equally as talented but are delivering better content.

Once you become caught up in each introduction, it’s easy to latch on to the other predictable CCM facets of the album. While head-bopping, some of the lyrics are so-so, like “sit back and enjoy the ride”. There is also a simplicity to the Biblical truths he shares, which makes the end product perfect for new Christians and tweens cultivating their identity in Christ, but less appealing to mature Christians searching for more thought-provoking and complex ideas.

All that to say, if you are looking for a positive, well-crafted album filled with Biblical truths, then Identity is for you. Parents will also love the integrity and values Colton promotes while still enabling their teens to listen to great music.

But for those who want a bit more meat to their musical meal, leave this one as a backing track or give it a miss. Colton has the capacity to give us an incredibly spiritually mature album in the future, but he isn’t quite there yet.

Identity is available at Koorong and is on iTunes for $20.99.