This Is Life Bio

This Is life
Nothing turns out right
Then the sun come popping up
And takes away the darkest of night
It’s the beauty and pain
Success and strife
This is it, this is love, this is everything
This is life...
— "This Is Life" (2014)

If life was just the mountain tops, we'd lose all perspective. It is the valleys that make us know how important the highs truly are.

As Chris Sligh began writing for his latest collection of songs, This Is Life, he was in the valleys of life. As his relationship with his major label came to an end, Chris followed the call to move his family to a church (what felt like) across the world from their home in Nashville, in Colorado.

As a singer whose tone and pitch is virtually unparalleled; and as a writer whose songs were respected and admired by peer and critic alike; leaving behind a once-blossoming career in the music business to pursue leadership in a small-town church felt like a step back.

But after over ten years of fighting and clawing and building a career, Sligh realized that his marriage was damaged from years of putting career first. And when he and Sarah welcomed their first child, Keira, into the world, suddenly, a Dove Award nomination or a top 5 single meant little... if it meant being gone 300 days a year, as it had before.

And so, the Slighs moved to Colorado. Both Chris and Sarah struggled with the move, the loss of a dream. Sure, they knew that this was how God led. They knew in their heads that God's plan was better than theirs. But knowing something and truly believing it are two very different things. And years of troubles don't go away overnight because you want them to.

So they struggled in this new life. And they struggled to rest in the knowledge that they were in the will of God.

And out of this tension came lyrics like:

Why?
Why hide Your face from me?
Why?
When all that I’ve tried to be is right...
Right in Your eyes
So why do you hide?
Why do you hide?
Why?
— "Why?" (2014)

Heartfelt and honest, reminiscent of the Psalmist in his darkest moments... as a lyricist, Chris Sligh always reaches for the root of the problem; the deepest, darkest thing in his psyche, and he lays it out with a raw ferocity that tends to connect with us all. Because we've all felt that feeling, right? The feeling that God is hiding His face from us... that feeling of aloneness... that feeling of despair... that questioning, "Why, God, why?"

But around the corner from the darkest of moments, come lyrics of hope, lyrics of submission... still honest, still raw, but raising questions not of God, but of himself:

Sometimes love breaks through the storms and the clouds
And sometimes love speaks through the rain pouring down
Just because He can doesn’t mean He should
Make the wind stop or go
Through it all we can know
Life is good
— "Life Is Good" (2014)

Does God speak through the sunshine? Does He speak through the raindrop? Surely He speaks through both. And this is the tension, back and forth throughout this album: the high and the low, the mountaintop and the valley.

Lyrically, Sligh drifts from Psalmery to folky storyteller to love song to worshiper. Musically, this is easily the singer/songwriter's most definitive effort to capture what songs influenced him in his songwriting journey: from Bryan Adams to the Beatles to Ben Folds to Tom Petty to Steven Curtis Chapman and Bebo Norman, you can hear the music that shaped him.

In "Learning to Fly", perhaps the most joyous track he's ever recorded, Sligh meditates on Isaiah 40:31 to the backdrop of a mixture of Neil Diamond and the Beatles, using horns in a way that feels old and fresh all at once, Sligh sings:

Falling is easy but I’m learning to fly
Learning to fly
To mount up on eagles’ wings
Soarin’ so high, chasin’ those blue skies
All my hope in You
I know my strength will be renewed
As I’m learning to fly
— "Learning to Fly" (2014)

And that's the story of this record... it's life, it's love, it's everything. It's up and downs, it's ins and outs... but it's life and it's gritty and never quite right, and yet God moves and shapes and creates what He wants...

And it's better that way.