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David Crowder Band's Crowning Achievement,
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This review is from: Give Us Rest (Audio CD)
David Crowder Band, the cutting edge of Christian worship bands in the last decade, offer up their sixth and final album. It's a virtuoso effort of bells, chimes, whistles, banjos, techno, and choir-pumped glory, with their most Christ-centered focus and ambitious musicality. It's an unforgettable experience.
No one does it quite like the David Crowder Band. Not only have they been light years ahead of the Contemporary Christian scene (which is mostly light years behind), but they're often outpacing their secular counterparts. While most Christian bands have an equivalent in the mainstream -- Third Day is Pearl Jam, Tree63 is U2, Group 1 Crew is Black Eyed Peas, Switchfoot is Switchfoot -- there's really no close match to DCB. While they may be made of many derivative parts, David Crowder's signature country twang and the aggressive, experimental musicianship is more than a copy-paste quilt of genres. He's really in an artistic league of his own.
This double-disc album, again featuring an operatic structure between songs like Church Music, comes together more like a meta-narrative than musical pieces. Where his previous album felt like a foray into uncertain ground, this time DCB masters it. It is the best of David Crowder but more than a best-hits album. In an era now where music listeners can buy single songs for a dollar, this is not one of those albums you can cherry-pick for custom listening. It demands to be heard like a book, from start to finish, full blast. Like any album that is not immediately radio-friendly, it may take a few listens or rewinds to appreciate the craftsmanship. Or you may get right on board like I did.
As his lyrics have occasionally shied away from the cross or from the name of Jesus, the focal point of his lyrics here are more Christ-centered than ever before. We get the sense that the album -- all of history -- is headed towards our Great Rest, the Risen Savior. The first disc does well in drawing you in the for the rest of the ride; "Oh Great God Give Us Rest" and "Come Find Me" dispel any expectations you may have of a typical worship album. The disc peaks at "Let Me Feel You Shine," fully basking in Jesus' transfiguration. The seven "Sequences" feels like a global hymnal, reminding me of Philippians 2 when every knee will bow, every tongue will confess.
The second disc is driven by a bluesgrass ethos punctuated with epic efforts like "After All" and "Sometimes." It's strange that a song like "Oh Great Love Of God," a pop song buried in the second disc, almost sounds casual in an album full of wild creativity. It's certainly a good song, but such a practical church song actually loses some of the album's momentum. The second disc finishes strong with "Because He Lives," a meditation on the gospel that will leave few in tears.
For a final album, David Crowder delivers a wonderful last epistle. Despite some dips in energy with the more pop-minded songs, Give Us Rest will be remembered as a unique, timeless, fully realized album from a Christian band in top form. Having seen David Crowder Band about a dozen times live, I can say with wistful gratitude that they will be missed.
"Oh Great God Give Us Rest," "Come Find Me," "Let Me Feel You Shine," "After All," "Because He Lives"