Chris August is not a newcomer to the music world. He’s worked with Brian McKnight, Robin Thicke, Ashlee Simpson, and Ryan Cabrera while also having Joe Simpson (Jessica and Ashlee Simpson’s father) as a manager. His single “Starry Night” reached number one on Billboard’s Christian/AC chart for 6 consecutive weeks, and he recently won New Artist of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, and Pop/Contemporary Recorded Album of the Year in the 2011 Dove Awards. Deciding to leave Los Angeles as a secular musician and focus on creating contemporary Christian music, August now resides in Nashville, Tennessee. The Upside of Down, August’s newest album, is actually a good fit for both the Christian and mainstream radio. Conveying the truth of God while also delivering an energetic and intelligent musical performance, this album makes it clear that August is a well-seasoned musician with a desire to spread the gospel to all those who will hear—and it does so in a very accessible way.
A sonic mix of John Mayer, Gavin DeGraw, and Stevie Wonder, The Upside of Down is a soulful gospel/country pop fusion with a funk groove that cannot be loosened. His smooth, wide-range vocals are honest and passionate. With an organ, Rhodes sound, tight beat, backing gospel choir, it’s all there in an album that is guaranteed to get you bobbing your head from the downbeat of the first song.
August’s songs are eclectic in style and content; with “Let the Music Play” channeling the great Stevie Wonder, “1989” and “This Side of Heaven” John Mayer, and “A Little More Jesus” and “Amen” sending the listener straight back to the church pews on a celebratory Sunday morning. Nonetheless, August pulls from all genres and melds them to create his own sound, specifically heard in “Center of It” and “The Upside of Down.”
August says that his “primary hope as a songwriter is to write and produce songs that people relate to, songs that meet them where they are and offer something in that interaction. What good is all that if I’m not reaching people and encouraging them to live for something greater than themselves?”
The Upside Of Down conveys just that, recognizing and professing God’s love and faithfulness through the ugly and the beautiful times of life. “Truth Is Still True” sums up the album perfectly with these simple lyrics:
So I sing, oh I sing, I sing Your name
Though it seems it’s all in vain
And I know, I know no matter how I feel
I know Your truth is still true, it is true
And I hid in the darkness, still there I found You, still there I found
There is no kind of song that isn’t about You, that isn’t about You
More: Great music, great feel, great energy. This album is filled with a charm that everyone can relate to.
Less: Lyrically, this album does not match the caliber of the sound it delivers.