We're living in a world that will gladly define us…if we let it. In
fact, society is so good at lavishing us with worth, it feels
counter-cultural to look to a higher power to tell us who we truly are.
After all, magazines, movies and social media are all experts in that
arena. If we're not careful, we can allow Hollywood, or our Instagram
feeds, to characterize us. Yet the Creator of our very DNA never intended
for anyone or anything else other than Himself to
label us. It's a message Colton Dixon feels is significant for today, and
it's the hope he's staking his life on, in song, through his third studio
release, Identity (Capitol CMG).
It would be easy for Dixon to allow his success to become his identity.
Since placing in the top seven during "American Idol's" eleventh season,
he's performed for more than 1 million fans across the country on
high-profile tours with TobyMac, Third Day and Britt Nicole, as well as on
the annual multi-artist Winter Jam Tour Spectacular. His 2013 debut, A Messenger, set the record for biggest first-week sales by a new
solo Christian act and became the No. 1 selling album by a Christian artist
that year. His sophomore effort, Anchor, generated the most-played
Hot AC single of 2014, "More of You," and chart-topper "Through All of It."
In addition, Dixon has garnered two GMA Dove Awards and multiple K-LOVE Fan
Award nominations. He's also an official Steinway & Sons artist,
joining the ranks of legendary performers like Harry Connick, Jr., and
Yes, Dixon could let his public platform and a myriad of accolades call the
shots. Yet, instead, he chooses to find his identity solely in Christ. "The
only thing that's going to really satisfy you is the Lord, and He's the
only thing that will continue to blow your mind as you live your life," the
singer says. "He will always exceed your expectations, always."
It was an exploration of identity-where we find it, how we measure it, and
who we look to for it-that drove the thematic direction for Dixon's latest
"I was just looking at my life and asking how do I measure my success?" he
shares. "Am I measuring it in the paycheck at the end of the day? Am I
measuring it in how many people are in the audience? Am I measuring it in
how many records I've sold, how big my house is, what car I'm driving? And
that's the norm. It's a never-ending cycle, and you're never going to be
happy or satisfied."
It would also be natural for Dixon to find his identity in his marriage.
Since marrying Annie in early 2016, Dixon has been learning to navigate his
first year as a newlywed, while touring and recording a new album.
Regardless, he doesn't look to his relationship with his wife to define
him; yet Annie's mark on his life is woven into the fabric of Identity. If anything, marriage has profoundly impacted Dixon's
relationship with the Lord and has challenged his point of view as a Christ
"I'm coming at my career from a different perspective now," he maintains.
"Getting married, it completely changes everything-the way I think, or the
way I should think. Every morning, my wife and I wake up, and it's
a new opportunity to serve the other person. I now try to ask, 'How can I
serve you today?' It's something I don't do near enough, but what would
life be like if we did that every day?"
He admits that in the me-centered culture we live in, it can be challenging
to maintain a servant-hearted mentality. He sees so many believers claim
the gospel, yet cave to the world's status quo for the sake of popularity.
"Even amongst the Church, we're trying to be the coolest thing, and
sometimes we bend Scripture to meet our need. It can be a scary thing,"
Dixon offers. "There are a couple songs I just want to challenge all of us
- 'Identity' being one of them."
Not only does Dixon tackle some formative truths on Identity, he
also ventures into new sonic territory. L.A.-based producers Adam Watts and
Gannin Arnold (known collectively as Broken City) co-wrote and helmed
nearly half of Identity's 17 tracks. "They really helped define
this new sound for the record," Dixon says. In addition, Seth Mosley (for
KING & COUNTRY), Tommee Profitt (NF), Tedd T. (TobyMac) and Colby
Wedgeworth (Jordan Feliz) each produced tracks. While his previous two
releases have focused on alt-rock juggernauts and expansive ballads, Identity reveals synth-infused, aggressive pop that's as danceable
as it is substantial. Perhaps it's the influence of marriage or simply
Dixon's varied experiences on the road, but this collection of songs feels
more mature in stature.
"I definitely deal with some topics that might be hard to hear," Dixon
shares. "I want fans to feel motivated and encouraged, but I want these
songs to challenge them and make them think about their own lives."
The album is intentionally divided into three sections-mind, body and
spirit-each one separated by an instrumental, cinematic interlude. THE MIND
delves into the way our thoughts direct our actions and control the way we
Lead radio single "All That Matters" rests on a pop-heavy, arena-size
chorus that boasts of God's constant faithfulness in our lives. "It's such
a great reminder that no matter what you're going through, we have a God
who's there, and you matter to Him," Dixon says, pointing to the line that
namedrops the album's title: "Your love is my identity."
The vibrant "Technicolor" inspires believers to look at life through God's
eyes and see the spectrum of hues He's painting all around us. "It's just
about experiencing a little bit of heaven while we're here on earth," Dixon
THE BODY explores our humanity and how we are fearfully and wonderfully
made in the image of God.
THE SPIRIT provides moments of contemplation and peaceful reflection.
Standout track "The Other Side" celebrates life after death in a nod to
Annie's younger brother, who passed away five years ago following a tragic
accident. "I was in bed one night, and I remember getting the lyrics to the
chorus just downloaded into my brain," Dixon says of the song's inception.
wrote it down in my phone, and then I just sang it. I sang the chorus, and
I looked over and my wife was crying. Then I started crying, and we
couldn't really explain what was happening.
"Whether you believe in the Lord or not, this life is temporary. You're
going to die unless Jesus comes back. I wanted to shed some light on a
topic that people are kind of scared to talk about… I wanted to paint
a picture of what death normally looks like and then what it should look like," he continues. "It's been so cool to see Annie's
family and how they have dealt with her brother's death. Although they
really miss him, they're excited for him to be dancing with the Lord, and
that's the way it should be."
Whatever the subject, he knows each of the songs on Identity will
eventually find a life of their own as, one by one, they resonate
personally with fans. Ultimately, Dixon wants this batch of songs to help
listeners discover that their self-worth can only be found in Christ. "I'm
hoping that this record has songs that will just be a torch for someone as
they're living their life in darkness," he says.
With every note and lyric, his heartbeat is to express the truth he's
uncovered in his own life over and over again. This world can't define us,
because God's love is our identity.