“We really didn’t know what this was going to be when we started recording it, but it’s kind of turned into this story that we didn’t anticipate telling–the story of our lives for the past three years.”
That’s Caleb Chapman describing his band’s newest EP, To the Ends of the World. I met Caleb on tour last fall and immediately enjoyed his company. He was 22 years old and had already been married for a few years. I enjoy the look of surprise on folks’ faces when I tell them that I got married when I was 20, but there I sat, registering the same look when Caleb told me he had one-upped me by a year. I must watch this young grasshopper closely, I thought as I stroked my beard. I knew he had a band, and that Brent Milligan (whom I’ve known for several years via his excellent production of a few Eric Peters records) and Joe Causey had produced their latest album. I also knew Caleb’s dad (this guy named Steven).
What I didn’t know was that their music would make me ugly-cry while jogging. Several times, in fact. As soon as To the Ends of the World released I bought it, and as soon as I listened to it I loved it. It sounded like a combination of Coldplay, The Killers, and Switchfoot. It sounded fresh and full of energy and joy. But what caught my ear from the beginning wasn’t just the sound. It was the story.
Most folks with even a vague knowledge of Christian music have heard of Steven Curtis Chapman, and probably know about the accidental death of his daughter Maria a few years ago. When you put this album on, it’s pretty clear from the beginning that these songs aren’t just pop songs. They’re telling a story. They’re telling the story of what goes on in the heart of young men whose faith is confronted with something terribly painful. It’s not overt or overbearing—nor is it full of over-dramatic angst. It just sounds honest, and beautifully so. As Caleb said above, they didn’t really mean to tell this story. That tells me that the songs on this EP are the outpouring of genuine struggle and genuine faith.
And that’s what makes me ugly-cry. Especially when I’m running. When I get to the last song, “To the Ends of the World”, I’m usually at the end of a three-mile jog. I’m no distance runner, so I’m often about to collapse after 30 minutes. Then I hear the opening lyric, “You run / You run as far as you can run from love / You run”, and I feel like the song is being sung straight to my wandering heart. Then I feel my feet lift off the ground a little. “You can’t escape my heart / ‘Cause my heart runs to the ends of the world / I’ll fight for you / I’ll fight until I die for you”. Those words ring like an anthem in my head and my heart, and it’s like I could run forever—not from something, but to it. The previous songs, while often joyous on their own, lead me through a painful story—a story not without questions—to this triumphant ending, to an answer: no matter how far we run we can’t escape the height, width, and depth of God’s overcoming love. We might as well try and outrun a tsunami.
I’m excited to tell you that Caleb the Band will be joining me on the Light for the Lost Boy tour this fall! (Yes, I mean that exclamation point with all my heart.) I’m so very excited about it. That means Caleb, his brother Will Chapman (who played most of the drums on my new record), and guitar/vocal/keys/bass ninja Scott Mills will be joining Ben, Gullahorn, and me—and that means I get to play my songs with a full band. That’s something I rarely get to do, and I can hardly wait.
You can pick up the new Caleb EP in the Rabbit Room store for a whopping $7 (you can also listen to clips). Check out their website here. They have several videos on YouTube, but I thought this one would be a good introduction to just how good these guys are. Even when they’re standing on a boulder.