Cutting away from a long and successful journey with his alternative rock band Anberlin, singer and songwriter Stephen Christian is now focused on a solo project he started back in 2009 called Anchor and Braille – a culmination of songs Christian wrote that did not fit the Anberlin sound. Tension, the fourth studio album released, explores a softer, lighter side of Christian as he delves into the ease of life. The poetic lyrics and electronic-pop vibe of this album reveals how talented a songwriter Christian is.
Tension starts off with the laid-back pop tune “No Ordinary” – laced with a bit of R&B, this is the kind of song you envision driving down the road with the top down. “Black Sea” follows, speaking about love, with a cool slow-down around two-thirds through the song. “Eventful Horizon” begins with interesting sound effects and is quite different from what we are used to from Christian.
“Dangerous” is a poppy tune that falls at mediocre, however “Tethered” pulls you back out with a dance number, underlying pop-R&B tones and great vocal harmonies. “Closer_Farther” follows up as one of the album’s favorites, hosting poignant lyrics about the true nature of our character, and retreats to the rock sounds we are familiar with. “Slow Motion” is a catchy, fun song that will get you moving. “Phantom Pain” slides in with a nice groove and love story. Wrapping up the album are “Madness”, another definite favorite with a hint of funky bass, a bit of rock, and top vocals, and another love tune called “Beautiful Song”.
Tension is a great sit back and chill album, subtle in many ways and driven by Christian’s familiar vocals. For the listener that appreciates more electronic music versus live recorded instruments, this album will be sure to please, however if you are not a fan of that sound it might be a bit of a letdown. Stephen Christian’s passion for music and his ability to create emotion through words, however, are very much present throughout.