David Crowder Band Church Music Review – 7/7 Stars!

October 14, 2009 — 4 Comments

church-music-cover

Siggy’s Rating: 7/7 stars!

7-stars

I should probably start by letting readers know that most worship music I find overusing church-lingo cliches, poorly mixed music, and average vocalists.  Pretty much all the basic parts of a worship recording (vocalists, musicians, engineer, producer, composition of the songs, etc.) could be easily scrutinized by any huge fan of quality music.  So yes, I come into worship music with a bit of snobbishness and cynicism.  However, I also have a heart that loves to worship God through music and am therefore often left with a dichotomy.  “This sounds awful, but it is all we’ve got to be singing directly to God or about His character…”.

Now that we’ve got my personal background out of the way, we move to actually exploring David Crowder*Band’s newest album, titled “Church Music”.  This is not a typical worship album.  DC*B incorporates large amounts of creative electronic beats with progressive rock that makes for not only an incredible worship album, but an enjoyable listen.  The ethereal and ambient sounds fill out a genre that normally leaves listeners empty.  With most worship songs having a clear start and finish, Church Music actually flows together like an entire album should.  Seriously.  I do not remember listening to a worship album on repeat and Crowder has delivered an album that actually dives into some deep lyrical content combined with electronic rock that makes you dance like we hear that David of the Old Testament did back in 1000 B.C.  With the use of creative, yet not bizarre analogies, Crowder pulls the listener in for an hour and 13 minute wave of praising and calling out to the Messiah.  But, enough reading of a review, check out this video of pictures I made of one of my favorite songs from the album (lyrics below):

SMS (Send Me a Sign) Lyrics by DC*B

(Verse 1)
Send me a sign
A hint, a whisper
Throw me a line
‘Cause I am listening

Come break the quiet
Breathe your awakening
Bring me to light
‘Cause I am fading

Surround me with the rush of angel’s wings

(Chorus 1)
Shine Your light so I can see You
Pull me up, I need to be near You
Hold me, I need to feel loved
Can You overcome this heart that’s overcome?

(Verse 2)
You sent a sign
The hint, a whisper
Human, divine
Heaven is listening

Death laid low
Quiet and in the night a stirring

All around the rush of angels

(Bridge)
O the wonder of the greatest love has come

(Chorus 2)
Shine Your light so all can see it
Lifted up, ’cause the whole world needs it
Love has come, what joy to hear it
He has overcome, He has overcome

The beauty in the poetry of these lyrics combined with the emotive, growing music is truly moving.  Heaven is indeed listening to the “human/divine”.  God (100% divine) becoming a mere baby (100% man).  The Love has come and what a joy it is to hear it.  It’s lyrics like these that keep the focus on God himself and does not stray to being completely outside of the “worship” genre, but also moves it past the overuse of repetitive words that people only understand if they have been in church for longer than 5 years.

Criticism/Challenge to the Crowder*Band:

The common critique I hear of Crowder’s music is that it is “un-singable for average congregations”.  Now, I have often defended Crowder’s music and advocated that it can work in a corporate worship setting, but this latest album takes it to a different level.  The electronic driven sounds with many different drum sounds and layered keyboard parts makes it difficult for an acoustic guitar player with volunteer musicians to try and reproduce.  So, these are my challenges to each and every worship leader, but is specifically to Crowder since I believe he is actually progressive and innovative enough to consider it:

1. “How to Videos” of many of the songs in an acoustical form. I like the videos of the stories from places like Worship Together, but I would like to hear many of the songs done with David and his acoustic guitar or sitting at a piano completely stripped down.  Not only that, but a how-to video.  I would even be so bold as to ask for it in multiple keys (for those of us who are not tenors like every popular worship leader out there…).  That, my friends, would be awesome.

2. Release of the drum/electronic tracks from Logic (the software the band uses to record their albums with) on your personal website so that worship leaders can try and incorporate it the same way that you have created into their own weekly services.  Monster bands like Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead have done this in the “secular” realm, so wouldn’t it be incredible to do it for worship music?  You could either release it for free or charge a low rate for local worship leaders to be able to take their computer and play to it.  This would also allow fans to re-create your music and do some incredible remixes.  This means more amazing worship music, as well as a way for your fans to be able to connect with you on a whole new level.  Can you imagine if all the Christian artists released their tracks and allowed joe-shmoe to do mash-ups?  There would be all sorts of awfulness all over youtube, but at the same time could result in some incredible progress in the Christian market.

3. Allow the album to be continuously streamed online for free. This would allow people who would never buy your album (or who are not of the same Christian faith expression) to be able to hear the album at any time.  Also, most people like to “try before they buy” if possible and may be a way for fans to check out your great album before forking over the cash.  No one wants to hear a 30 second clip.  That’s what I label “annoying”.

4. Get the price down to $9.99 on iTunes. No one wants to go searching around on the internet to find it for a lower price (although, the .mp3’s are available at Amazon for $8.99 right now for those interested).  The price of the actual physical album resulted in over $18 bucks after shipping and taxes, but that price was redeemed when I got a magazine, sticker, the lyrics, etc.  Actually, I’ve already bought the album again for a friend.  I know that the actual band does not set this price, but the labels need to drop the price down.

Analysis of the Title: “Church Music”

The question that comes to most people’s mind when they hear, “Church Music” immediately questions, “Well…what is church music?”  Crowder answers this by saying that it is about the church (it’s people) being able to worship and connect with the Lord and Savior.  I think the album title is so over-the-top straightforward that it works.  In fact, the band used all kinds of creative marketing techniques to get the album all the way up to #11 on the top 200 Billboard.  Yeah…they were the eleventh best selling album that week!  They released 4 “Rockumentarys” in a very “Spinal Tap”-type manner that crack me up.  You can see or click to an external link below:

Rockumentary 1 – Shred On, Buddy

Rockumentary 2 – You Can Bet Your Life On It

Rockumentary 3 – Turn the Other Cheek

Rockumentary 4 – Twitter Will Kill You

How He Loves” Story

John Mark McMillan allowed David Crowder to change the lyrics to a really great worship song that blew up in most megachurches across the nation.  The song centers on the idea of God’s ridiculous love for us and how is “love is like a hurricane”.  You can read John’s words here, but essentially Crowder asked John if he could re-write the words of the bridge from “Heaven meets Earth like a sloppy wet kiss…” to “Heaven meets Earth like an unforeseen kiss”.  First off, I heard the McMillan version of the song and completely wrote it off.  I even made fun of it as having just gross imagery with the sloppy, wet kiss.  I love the concept he is getting at, that the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Earth colliding is completely messy.  I completely agree, but just could not sing words like that and not think of two middle-schoolers having their first kiss and accidentally sucking the face of one another.  But that’s just me.  When Crowder changed that one phrase, I gave the song a second chance and now I find it much easier to connect with God.

You can go here to hear the song “How He Loves” (embedding on external sites disabled because of the stupid record label).

Siggy’s Favorite Song:

The lyrics of this song remind me of the start of Rob Bell’s latest book, Drops Like Stars, where Rob tells a story about a mother and father whose two son’s wives are pregnant.  One of their sons has a beautiful, healthy baby while the other has a miscarriage.  The point of this unfortunate tale is that we are all walking down hallways just like the one in that hospital which is full of “Light and Shadows” (aka good and evil).  The lyrics that Crowder sings, “We will not fear, we will remember…the cross” is a huge reminder to remember the story that God has given us (the Bible) and that we can continue to write today as God meets us right here.  Right now.  The Bible tells us that we can actually converse directly with the Creator of the Universe.  I’m “resting in the shadow of the cross”.

Life is full of light and shadow
O the joy and O the sorrow
O the sorrow

And yet will He bring
Dark to light
And yet will He bring
Day from night

When the shadows fall on us
We will not fear
We will remember

When darkness falls on us
We will not fear
We will remember

When all seems lost
When we’re thrown and we’re tossed
We remember the cost
We’re resting in the
Shadow of the cross

Funny and cute video of a young child singing, “How He Loves”:

Thanks for a great album, Crowder Band, as well as your joyous spirits.  It is great to see you doing great Kingdom work while having fun.  To the fans of worship music, I advocate a purchase of this album pronto.

Jonathan Sigmon

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4 responses to David Crowder Band Church Music Review – 7/7 Stars!

  1. Great review and critique both of Crowder’s latest and the worship music industry… at least in part. Though you missed the cheesy-awesome-70s inspired album cover though. The cover heavily references (and pays homage to?) at least three ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) album covers: A NEW WORLD RECORD, THE ESSENTIAL ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA, and ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA: THE COLLECTION. 🙂

    If “Send Me A Sign” is similar to the other songs in structure and arranging of the basic song underneath the sounds, I could certainly imagine people doing these songs in even very simple formats in churches. Not that this song in particular strikes my fancy as far as the lyrics, I think others would be drawn to it and the chording is pretty basic.
    That said, I agree that a stripped down version of the songs or instructive videos not only showing how to play the songs that way but the what and the why would be great.

    Cheers.

  2. Ha! Yes. I believe the cheese was definitely intentional on the cover art front. Good call on that one!

    The songs I posted are actually the three simplest songs on the record as I always seem to get drawn into the minimalistic worship songs. Even though it is cliche, they always seem like I can connect with God a lot easier than the upbeat ones. So yes, you are very right that all three of the songs above could easily be done with even just an acoustic guitar.

    The what and the why is always helpful for all of us. It is so easy to get the meanings wrong of what the artist intended. Sometimes I like that (for personal interpretation sake), but it can be bad too. I read a youtube comment on the “sloppy, wet kiss” line and someone tied it into the bride of Christ rather than the collision of the Kingdom of God and Earth. That’s when it’s not so good.

    Anyways, thanks for joining the conversation Chris. I just put your blog on my blogroll (which randomly selects 5 at a time) earlier this evening.

  3. Thanks Sig.

    I would venture a guess that many MANY people go with the Bride of Christ interpretation for the “sloppy wet kiss” line as well as just about any other time they possibly can make it work. The whole concept is very romantic and epic with clear sides and I think that is very seductive to people like being on a sports team or letting The Lord of the Rings-type epic thing run one’s whole life. BTW, I actually like those books but I have noticed a pattern at least in certain groups.

    I assume that you read John Mark McMillan’s blog but for those who do not, here is an excerpt on the song lyric change:

    “The idea behind the lyric is that the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of earth converge in a way that is both beautiful and awkwardly messy. Think about the birth of a child, or even the death of Jesus himself. These miracles are both incredibly beautiful and incredibly sloppy (“gory” may be more realistic, but “Heaven meets earth like a gory mess” didn’t seem to have the same ring). Why does the church have such a problem with things being sloppy? Do we really think we’re fooling anyone on Sunday morning, especially God? Are we going to offend him? I mean, he’s seen us naked in the shower all week and knows our worst thoughts, and still thinks we’re awesome. What if we took all the energy we spent faking and used that energy to enjoy the Lord instead? That could be revolutionary!

    Final thoughts:

    I applaud David for changing the line to serve his people, and at the same time I boo the machinery that would cause him to have to do so.”

    You can read more about it and other thoughts on Christian culture and songwriting here: http://johnmarkmcmillan.blogspot.com/2009/09/how-he-loves-david-crowder-and-sloppy.html

  4. Crowder’s band members are just beginning to post their tabs on their website for those interested: http://davidcrowderband.com/tabs/. This will be the future of worship – worship artists providing this type of information for free. I’m thankful and excited!

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