American Idol finalist Colton Dixon released his debut album, A Messenger, back in January, 2013, and quickly established himself as a new powerhouse in Christian music. Now he’s getting ready to go on tour, and A Messenger has been re-released in an expanded edition as a precursor to his concerts.

With his distinctive voice, Dixon is quickly making himself a recognizable artist.

He may remind you of a young Billy Idol when you see the cover art, but his style belongs totally to himself. He has an ‘80s punk look, but his music is pure rock. It’s infused with a flavor of popular bands like Casting Crowns and Mercy Me, but punctuated by Dixon’s own inimitable style. Just as you can instantly recognize a Third Day song, you’ll pick up on Dixon’s distinctive vocals.

In the original album, not one of the 12 songs seems like it was added in as filler. Each track feels like it was crafted with care and God’s inspiration. Two of the tracks, “Never Gone” and “You Are,” were instant hits. Both have all the upbeat elements to draw you in, and the chorus of “You Are” is particularly catchy and can turn into an ear worm if you’re not careful.

“Noise” is a great example of Dixon’s rock style, and it also carries a very important message. It’s easy to forget that we need to tune out the noise all around us and listen to God’s small, still voice. This song is a powerful reminder.

“I’ll Be The Light” is another standout on this album. It’s a comforting reminder that we can always count on Jesus because He’s our light, even in the darkest night. It’s lyrics like the ones contained in this song that show Dixon’s deep inspiration.

Dixon co-wrote the song “Scars” with Rob Hawkins, and it’s another song to which just about everyone can relate. We all have scars of one kind or another, and they tell the story of our lives, as the lyrics remind us.

Is it worth buying the expanded edition if you already have the original A Message album? Sure, it won the 2013 Dove award for Best Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year, but is it strong enough for a rehashing only a year after its original debut?

There’s definitely enough new material to make fans happy, especially given the fact that there are four remixes and two brand-new songs. That brings the track count up to a robust 18.

The remixes are four of the most popular songs: “Love Has Come For Me” (Fab Music), “In and Out of Time” (Phenomenon), “Never Gone” (Capital Kings), and “You Are” (David Thulin). 

“Never Gone” was a good song to begin with, but it gains powerful new energy in the remix version. The same can be said of “Love Has Come For Me,” which gets a jaunty pop rock feel in its new version. The same is true of “In and Out of Time,” which almost gains a 1980s feel, while “You Are” takes on what seems like an entirely different personality. It’s a little odd hearing the remix version after hearing the original so many times in its extensive air play.

The two new songs are called “The Shape of Your Love” and “Wake Up.” “Wake Up” is a moody yet powerful song, while “The Shape of Your Love” is a great, soothing showcase for Dixon’s voice.

Here’s the complete track listing:

1. Intro
2. Noise
3. I’ll Be The Light
4. You Are
5. Never Gone
6. Love Has Come For Me
7. Scars
8. Rise
9. Where My Heart Goes
10. This Is Who I Am
11. In And Out Of Time
12. Let Them See You
13. Never Gone (Remix)
14. Love Has Come For Me (Remix)
15. In And Out Of Time (Remix)
16. You Are (Remix)
17. The Shape Of Your Love
18. Wake Up

The nice thing about the original “A Messenger,” as well as this expanded version, is that it showcases Dixon’s full range of talent. Not only is he a great singer, but he has obvious song writing talent. His vocal gifts, combined with his ability to touch Christian music fans through his words, will take him far.

This latest release might just be an expansion of his debut, but there are likely many more great originals in this young artist’s future.

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