Clear the Heir
Fo Yo Soul/Essential Sound/RCA Inspiration (Sony Music) (release date: October 19, 2018)
By Bob Marovich
Christon Gray has never been a shrinking violet when it comes to challenging the status quo of Christian music in style, arrangement, and lyric content.
On Clear the Heir, his latest full-length offering, Gray drives forward the autobiographical narrative he began on his earlier releases with a frothy fusion of hip hop, rap, dramatic recitations, and even symphonic strings. Clear the Heir also contains some of Gray’s most radio-friendly work to date.
The album’s provocative lyrics catch listeners up on the dramatic episodes in Gray’s life following The Glory Album and the overwhelming response to “Stop Me.” Right after this heady time, Gray went through a divorce and ended his relationship with Fo Yo Soul / RCA Inspiration (he and the label have since reconciled).
Not surprisingly, Gray sounds as if he has fallen through the floor on “Seekrets” and “Together Forever” (one of the album’s radio-friendly tracks). One can almost hear the air exiting the balloon in his rueful vocals. “Grow Up,” another ready-for-radio track, depicts the daredevil development of youthful ego and ambition, the brick wall of reality that the ego inevitably hits, and the maturity that results.
Clear the Heir is an almost visual exposition of a person whose imperfections have been exposed to God, the world, and himself, but whose desire to overcome the trials is unrelenting. The lyric conversation, whether sung or spoken, is as much between Gray and God as between Gray and his fans. If he asks God for continued understanding, he asks listeners to give heed to his setbacks and accept them as a warning. Such honesty can be tough to hear but important to absorb.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Grow Up,” “Together Forever”