David Crowder and his band-mates made a joyful noise to the Lord together for 8 original studio albums between 2002 and 2012, plus 2 independent albums a few years earlier. The story of their band is a pretty great one, and I am sure stories the band-members could share about their time together would be pretty incredible too. However, this review is not a look at look at their past, which includes a long list of individual hits that have revolutionized worship arts for the modern era on a level that only Chris Tomlin can rival. Instead, this review is concerned with the ability and intentionality of David Crowder Band to make whole albums that tell stories and the way the band says goodbye with one last epic tale.
ALBUMS THAT TELL STORIES
David Crowder Band created albums that tell stories. One of the things that can easily get lost in translation through radio play and iTunes downloads is the artistic creation of storytelling albums. DCB is known for having a concept for an album before the first note or lyric is written. These albums are best listened to in a single sitting, rather than taking chapters out of context.
THE FAREWELL ALBUM: GIVE US REST or (A REQUIEM MASS IN C [THE HAPPIEST OF ALL KEYS])
DCB‘s 2012 release was their final masterpiece as a unit. David Crowder and his friends have since moved on to other projects as they seek to pursue different ways to serve the Kingdom, but with their farewell album they went out BIG. Give Us Rest is like nothing I have ever heard, as DCB went out with their most creative, most original collaboration of their storied journey together.
CROSS BETWEEN RELIENT K & THE TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA
Listening to Give Us Rest brought to mind two other musical groups: Relient K and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. What does a worship band have to do with a punk/alt-rock band and a rock-opera band comprised of hard hitting sounds and a full orchestra who is best-known for its one-of-a-kind Christmas music? David Crowder Band, Relient K and Trans-Siberian Orchestra all exuberate brilliance in their individual approaches to making music that is bigger than a few people singing and playing instruments together. They have a vision for something more grand, more original and more moving than the other music out there. In other words, they know not the definition of a genre.
Not only do all these bands share a passion for making beautiful music that tears down barriers, but DCB‘s goodbye creation Give Us Rest actually shares similar sounds to both Relient K and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The obvious relation to Trans-Siberian Orchestra comes in Sequence 1 – Sequence 7 on Disc 1 of the double-album. When you listen to this section of the story, it makes you feel like you are in a dungeon beneath an old Roman Catholic cathedral listening to a cross between a church-choir, dark organ music, bells, electronic sounds and a fast, pounding orchestral composition. Who even thinks to throw all these sounds together? Not many should attempt this combination of sounds, but David Crowder Band pulls it off in their own fashion.
VARIETY OF INSTRUMENTAL SOUNDS
What about Relient K? Listen to Relient K‘s album The Birds and the Bee Sides (or any album between 2001-2009), taking particular notice of songs “I Just Want You to Know”,”Hope For Every Fallen Man”,”Where Do I Go From Here” and “You’ll Always Be My Best Friend” and notice the extreme variety of instruments, speeds and sounds that go beyond the typical punk-rock sound of their early albums. These songs also take a hodge-podge of musical styles and uses them to point to God.
Like Relient K often does with their music, David Crowder Band uses music to paint a Picasso that may seem strange, definitely different and quite possibly confusing, but ultimately those who take the time to sort through this messy work will take a step back and say, “Aha!” What would a Picasso be if you only had a square inch by which to base your opinion? For the same reason, it is unfair to judge this final album from DCB by individual tracks, even though there are some great tunes that can stand on their own. Look at the bigger picture; enjoy the originality of sounds; acknowledge the deeply personal connection the band-mates share with the lyrics (knowing it is their final act together); and finally, let the music move you.
EXPERIENCE THE ALBUM
Listen to the whole monster, 34-track double album in one sitting, and when you are done, take a step back and look at what David Crowder Band just created, the story they just told you, noticing that they did not create an homage to their own glorious careers. If you listen to the whole story, you might cry at times, smile at times, and reminisce of days gone by, but when it is all said and done, you should leave this experience seeing a picture of God’s love for His fallen, sinful creation.