“This album feels not only like a new chapter to my career; it feels like starting a whole new book.”
The Oscar and five-time Grammy winning artist, Christopher Cross, has returned with the compelling Doctor Faith – his first album of all new material in a dozen years. This album not only shows that Christopher Cross is still one of the most exceptional songwriters and singers but also that, with these timeless and excellent songs, he is able to reach out for a large audience around the world.
Christopher Cross was by far the biggest new star of 1980, virtually defining adult contemporary radio with a series of smoothly sophisticated ballads including the #1 hit, “Sailing.” Cross’ 1980 self-titled debut album with the lead single “Ride Like the Wind” rocketed to the #2 spot and in the wake of two more Top 20 hits, “Never Be the Same” and “Say You'll Be Mine,” he walked off with an unprecedented and record-setting five Grammys in 1981, including Best New Artist, Song of the Year for “Sailing,” and Album of the Year for Christopher Cross.
He soon scored a second #1, as well as an Academy Award, with “Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do),” which he co-wrote with Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, and Peter Allen for the smash Dudley Moore film comedy Arthur.
Cross’ passion for music has never waned. At this writing, Christopher has released eight albums of original material, a body of work revealing a steady, focused dedication to that oh-so-rare commodity – artistic growth.
But Doctor Faith isn’t just a new album. For the Texas born and bred artist, it marks a big turning point: “It’s like starting a new book because it’s significantly different from a production stand point.” But it’s a familiar style lyrically. “With these new songs my writing partner, Rob Meurer, and I share our perspective with our listeners – searching for peace within ourselves and for peace in the world.”
This approach to his music began nearly three years ago when Christopher Cross was asked to do a rare, month long appearance at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. Joined by excellent jazz musicians on piano and sax, he played a stripped down acoustic set of his music. Cross decided to record this set and the resulting album, The Café Carlyle Sessions, was a wonderful rediscovery of his material and it created the hunger for writing new songs.
With his new album Doctor Faith, Christopher Cross shows his full potential as a songwriter and a very talented musician. Doctor Faith represents a departure for the artist. “It’s a very guitar-based album,” explains Christopher Cross. “I began to buy new guitars and guitar gear and did a lot of research, really getting back into playing electric. Although I have always written on guitar, my earlier albums were done more from a keyboard-based sound production. Being the producer of this album, I had the freedom to explore a whole new sound canvas that was very inspiring. And so the album went in a different direction.”
Sitting in the producer’s chair for the second time, after producing a very intimate Christmas album three years ago, was certainly a challenge that turned out to be a pleasant experience for Christopher Cross. “I really enjoyed working with Michael Omartian on my first records. He is brilliant and I learned so much from him. His years of mentorship gave me the confidence to go it on my own.” The decision to use the guitar as the main instrument created a very different soundscape. “There are no synthesizers; we used all acoustic instruments. So the production technique and resulting music is very different from my last album Walking In Avalon. There’s a lot of space for my voice to live. The last bit of icing we put on the cake were the strings which were beautifully arranged by Chris Walden.”
The album Doctor Faith may surprise some people, not only because of its mesmerising energy and freshness but also because it shows the social awareness of an artist who’s been in the business for more than three decades – reflecting about what’s going on in the world, in the society, between the generations and in the common day-to-day life. Take for example the uplifting, very forward-thinking opener, “Hey Kid.” “Rob and I were talking about handing over the torch, if you will, to the next generation,” explains Cross. “I have children, as does Rob. And sometimes we fear for them, for their future, for the quality of the environment. Will they have clean water to drink? How will the economy develop? They have their whole lives ahead of them and we’re trying to encourage them to make the best out of themselves.”
The multi-layered song, “I’m Too Old For This,” is a critical observation of the American society. Started during the times of the Bush administration, the song states: “Fancy churches preaching hate thy neighbor - corporate lies growing louder every day.” Says Cross: “The U.S. has pretty much alienated the rest of the world. And at the end of the day, we have to face that we are not the empire that we once were.”
The Los Angeles-based artist shows another very impressive side of his songwriting qualities with the title track, “Doctor Faith.” In this somehow mysterious song, Cross is ironically asking about the work of some therapists. The superb Michael McDonald, a long time and close friend of Cross, gives the patient of this “Doctor Faith” a very plaintive voice. “With therapy, in the end, there’s often no real conclusion or solution. There’s a lot of scepticism in that song.”
But Christopher Cross wouldn’t be Christopher Cross if he didn’t sing also about real people – their daily problems, hopes and wishes, about the obstacles they have to face in their lives and how they’re trying to overcome them. Listen to the yearning track, “When You Come Home,” which points out the regrets of a man for all the mistakes he made in a relationship and hoping for forgiveness. Or take the melancholic and haunting, “Help Me Cry,” which explores traditional gender roles. The album culminates in the sparsely arranged, very intimate but powerful “Prayin’” where Cross and Meurer express spirituality in an extraordinary and very soulful way.
Having finished the album, Christopher Cross looks forward to touring the world with his new 7-piece band. “I never thought of retiring because fortunately I have been blessed with having some hits,” says Cross laughing. “Playing live is still a big part of my life and I really enjoy it.” With Doctor Faith, the accomplished artist is again among us with all of his passion, his energy and his dignity.
Cross dedicates the album to Joni Mitchell for a lifetime of inspiration.