Disclaimer: All views presented in this EP Review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O
Chris Cobbins made a mark in the music scene as a great hook singer, but quickly showed that he has the ability to make songs that deserve hitting the play button multiple times. We last heard from Chris on his album Hello World, which was his first project under Save the City Records. It was known for having a diverse style of tracks, ranging from pop to hip hop to contemporary. It was Chris’ first major LP to introduce himself musically to the world. Since it has been a year and a half from his last release, I wonder how the artist Chris Cobbins has grown and how it will be represented in this EP August Season (Take One).
One thing that is heard on this project, is that Chris is focused on representing Christ’s higher authority in everything he does. This project doesn’t have one over-arching theme that ties the entire EP together from beginning to end, but the theme is that Christ is our source and strength in everything. He is enough to bring us through any struggle we deal with. A majority of the songs deal with fighting different temptations and how they can be overcome with Christ.
It starts off with “Up,” featuring Jus B, a description of Christian living as a whole. It bounces back and forth from exclaiming how we stay on top, or “Up,” because of how we’ve put our total trust in Christ to shouting out/encouraging all of those who have claimed Christ as Lord in a party atmosphere. From there, the songs get focused on the push and pull that the flesh deals with in our everyday lives. The good thing is, the songs aren’t so personal and specific that people can’t relate – anybody can place themselves within the song narratives.
In “Mcfly,” Chris is singing about being in a situation that you wish you could go back in time to stop yourself from ever getting there. “Hitman” is all about how falling into sexual sin, and all that comes with it, is an area that the devil will continuously try to take us down with, even after we’ve walked away from that lifestyle. “Lover [4 the Night]” is all about how dangerous it is to play with sin. It’s for anyone thinking that they can get close to sin without doing it because “they’ve got it.” Those who have been saved for a while will tell you how unwise that mindset is.
The good part is that none of these songs recapitulate without adding the fact that even in the midst of mistakes, mess up’s, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, God is always there to offer a way out in the midst. I especially like how he ingrained this fact in “Hitman”, as the beat changes once Chris sings about how Jesus is enough to handle the situation. The project ends with a surrender song. Chris realizes he has had to deal with all of these temptations, struggling with sins more than he had to, because he had been trying to control his own life. He now would truly give his life over to Jesus and let him drive, thus the title “Backseat Driver.”
When you compare Chris’ previous album Hello World to August Season, you will notice that the overall tempo of songs have modestly slowed down. This is to be expected though, as ebbs and flows in popular music affect genres across the spectrum of musical styles as a whole, whether Christian or otherwise. The songs that we hear today are less upbeat/EDM tempo than they were just two to three years ago, which means we can expect this shift within the Christian/CHH genres as well. That means that basically all of the songs except “Lover [4 the Night]” have the same groove, but that doesn’t make all of the songs sound or feel the same.
Since Chris is a singer, he needs tracks that allow him to sing – not too noisy and distracting. His vocals fit well within these songs as a whole. Many of the songs have a break down or two that gives them each a distinctive life. Both “Mcfly” and “Whoa!” have intricate dubstep portions in it, breaking up the “hip pop” track that it is. And “Lover 4 the Night” is an outlier song that’s a hybrid of 80’s and current uptempo songs, compared to the urban gospel/pop songs it’s surrounded by. A lot of these songs have fun melodies that tickle the ear for a replay. It’s hard not to love the song “You Da One,” as it is a great song about pure, Christ centered love, that is too smooth to ignore.
But by far my favorite track has to be “Hitman,” which as I said before, has a changeup. The track transitions from being something you can bounce to, then changes to this 90’s R&B slow jam that goes amazingly well together. With the musical transition comes a switch in direction of the song. During the upbeat section, Chris sings about his need to constantly dodge attacks and temptations sent his way. He feels under attack, like there is a bounty on his head and he is unsure if he can make it. But when the track switches, you feel the relief of Chris resting in the presence of Jesus, as The Lord has the ability to control every situation and give him the strength to overcome every struggle. It’s a well painted picture within the musical framework.
In today’s music business, following a full length album with an EP is no longer a risky move. Singers/Artists have lives and families to support, so making music full-time can be a daunting task within the Christian realm, and fans understand that. So, it’s appreciated when the public receives a body of work from a hard working artist that sounds complete and polished. It’s an EP, so, the number of songs in it aside, August Season(Take One) sounds like a complete work.
Although music is always influenced by popular trends, the tracks don’t sound dated. Chris was able to navigate with the waves of current styles and still represent himself as an individual artist. If you have liked previous work by Chris Cobbins, then you’ll have no problem enjoying August Season (Take One) and adding it to your collection.