David Crowder Band – Give Us Rest Or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys]): Requiem for a Dream Fulfilled

2012_DavidCrowderBand_GiveUsRestorARequiemMassinCTheHappiestofAllKeysArtist: David Crowder Band
Album: Give Us Rest Or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys])
Year: 2012
Grade: B+

In Brief: A fitting send-off for a great worship band (or just a great band in general [not to mention a passionately intelligent one {who really loved their parenthesis}]).

It’s been almost nine years since I started listening to the David Crowder Band. Back in 2002, when they were newly signed to a major CCM label and I was just learning to approach anything labeled as “worship” music with caution rather than excitement. Here came these young upstarts from Texas, attempting to make music that would succeeded where others had failed at getting college students and young adults excited about church again. At the time, I wasn’t really sure that they were pulling it off, since I was not really impressed with Can You Hear Us? It felt like they had more potential than they were fully exploring at the time, playing it safe with largely down-tempo praise tunes and only the occasional rocker or left-field cover tune to change things up. Interestingly, it was their version of a song from another seminal worship band’s early years – the Delirious? song “Obsession” – that first got my attention. The follow-up, 2003’s Illuminate, was the album that really got me on board and introduced me to their approach of worship albums as conceptual art, meant to fuse traditional songs and theological writings with the upbeat joy of modern praise music. By the time A Collision rolled around in 2005, I knew that they were aiming for something greater than just highly singable songs for congregations. That album was a bizarre, experimental jumble, obsessed with death and also with our rescue from it. The results were still hit and miss, but I could tell that the DCB was trying to approach the idea of “worship” with genuine thought, to give us intellectuals a little something to stop and think about, as a way of starting to break through the cynicism we’d built up after years and years of humdrum generic love songs passing as worship music in many of our church services. It worked. I was convinced that the DCB was the most creative worship band actually finding some level of success in Christian music, and I hoped that they’d be around to influence the genre for a long time to come.

Well, now it’s 2012, and the band has recorded their last album, played their final concert, and we fans are largely still trying to figure out how to say goodbye. As far as band breakups go, you really couldn’t ask for a better situation – the group announced their pending split well ahead of time in mid-2011, turned the nostalgia up to the nth degree on their “7” Tour, and took their time carefully crafting a double-length album called Give Us Rest (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys]) – yes, that is seriously the full album title – that intends to surpass the scope of any other album they’ve made, giving us as fond a farewell as they knew how to. It was an exciting but exhausting run for Crowder and Co., and they decided it would be fitting to end their career with a requiem of sorts. Being the theology geeks that they are, the boys did their research, using the thematic structure of an actual requiem mass in order to help us work through the stages of mourning, acceptance, and finally celebration as the band arrives at its final resting place. If the thought of a 2-disc concept album based around an ancient service largely used in Catholic churches sounds to you like it’d be the kind of snoozefest that would leave you fighting to keep from hitting your forehead on the pew in front of you, then fear not. Some of the DCB’s most ambitious, boisterous, and creative output can be found on this album. It is also quite calm and beautiful in several places, but there are very few dull moments. For any band to create an hour and forty minutes of music with such a favorable ratio of good to bad is a feat in and of itself, but to do this as a painstakingly-planned grand finale, offering Easter eggs and thematic closure for the fans who have hung on throughout the years, is nothing short of fascinating. The best way to say goodbye to your fans, after all, is with a statement of lasting worth, something that aspires to be greater than the artist or band itself.

The crazy thing about Give Us Rest is that even for me, the kind of fan who loves the DCB’s over-the-top experiments and explorations, 34 tracks spread over 2 discs is a lot to take in. It’s been three weeks now, and I’ve listened to the thing incessantly, and I still keep losing my place at times. The realization that many of these tracks are merely segues, interludes, or smaller pieces of larger compositions may help to mitigate that somewhat, but coming from the relatively simple Remedy and the dazzling Church Music (which was also long and convoluted, but all of its tracks were essentially full-length, self-contained songs that just so happened to segue seamlessly into each other), it’s a lot more difficult to pinpoint the catchy worship anthem that you’ll be singing in your head all week, or the thundering rocker that will have you playing air guitar at stop lights, since many tracks of this nature are prone to segue into something completely different, sometimes without warning. The best comparison that I can offer is A Collision – indeed, Give Us Rest seems tailor-made to be an intentional reflection of that album’s obsession with death and the great beyond, even to the point of being broken into subsections to help us track the intended mood and message of the songs. Playing this thing on random could potentially induce headaches, or at least a great amount of confusion. If your favorite Crowder tracks are the more straightforward, churchy anthems from Illuminate or Remedy, then there’s gonna be a real steep learning curve for you here (though you’ll find a bit of solace later in the album).

As fascinating as this everything-but-the-kitchen sink approach is, and as appropriate as it seems for a band that could play club-friendly electronica just as easily as they could reconfigure themselves into an acoustic bluegrass outfit, it’s admittedly confusing and perhaps a bit lopsided to touch on seemingly all of the different flavors that the band has tried out over the years within the span of a single album. The fanboy in me wants to say that Give Us Rest is a brilliant, transcendent piece of work, the band’s Magnum Opus in fact, and slap an easy A on it, but the critic within me can’t deny that it’s quite a jarring listen at times. This was the same struggle I had with A Collision, a record which seemed to divide the DCB’s fanbase pretty sharply between the folks who “got it” and didn’t mind the scattered puzzle piece nature of that album’s construction, and those who were just looking for the poppy songs and couldn’t even make it all the way through the album. I figure I should wrestle with something and try my best to understand why they did it that way before letting the off-putting confusion I feel translate to a lesser grade, but there are stretches such as the “Sequence” at the end of Disc One or the overly long penultimate section on Disc Two (which has too many songs vying for the role of “emotional climax” that probably shouldn’t all be in the same place at once), where I wonder if a bit of streamlining wouldn’t have hurt. I love the double-disc idea, and I wouldn’t want to stifle creativity just to make an album fit into the traditional 80-minute CD format. But the likely result of hacking and slashing your way through this album is that more intrepid listeners will probably find some personal favorite song buried deep within, mention it to another Crowder fan, and find that this other fan doesn’t even recall which song that is, having only made it far enough in to have found a more obvious, radio-friendly track that for them, seems to reward repetition more than exploring deeper within the album would. Using a traditional mass as inspiration also leads to several segments that have extremely repetitive lyrics, as many songs serve the role of perpetuating a specific mood or a simple theological concept before one of the surrounding songs breaks it down into something more personal and intimate. Long story short, this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, even if you were big on the DCB before. I’ve learned to love Give Us Rest, quirks and flaws and all, but personally, I think, Church Music will remain their greatest achievement.

INDIVIDUAL TRACKS:

DISC ONE

The Entrance (or, the Introit)

1. Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis, Domine
Church bells, birds, footsteps, a Latin prayer. All of these are heard in succession as this intro brings us into an old house of worship, and when a piano starts playing, this is strongly reminiscent of how “A Walk Down Stairs” led into “Come and Listen” on A Collision. (The track switches in a funny place, and really, it should just be all one track, but that’s a nitpick.)

2. Oh Great God, Give Us Rest
The band’s final tour opened with this song, and it’s exactly the sort of reflective thing that we’ve come to expect at the beginning of a David Crowder Band album (see “I Need Words” before “Our Love Is Loud” on Can You Hear Us?, “Come and Listen” before “Here Is Our King” on A Collision, or “The Glory of It All” before “Can You Feel It?” on Remedy). What’s different here is that the gentle piano ballad and the intense rock breakdown all happen within the same song. You think you know where it’s going after the first verse sets it up as a reflective prayer, but then the piano keys come pouring in more plentifully, and the drums and violin kick it up to a whole different level. It keeps the song from being predictable without making it any less reverent. The only thing I can find to gripe about is that it seems weird to say things like “Oh great God, do Your best” (Won’t He always? Does God ever do subpar work if not asked to do better?) or “Have You seen this place, it’s a mess.” (Well, God being omniscient and all…) I feel like these guys have developed enough as artists by this point that it’s unusual to see them low-balling a lyric for the sake of a convenient rhyme.
Grade: B

3. Lux Aeternam Shine
Another interlude shows up here – get used to it, because this album has almost as many of those as it does actual songs. Ideally, they help with the transitions between tracks, and also to enforce the overall theme. That’s done well here with the deep male voices solemnly chanting in Latin, ambient background noise growing louder and louder, building up to something that you just know is gonna be pretty cool.

4. Come Find Me
Just like the big anthems that any of those aforementioned opening ballads have led into, this track seems like it wants to quickly establish itself as another Crowder classic. You know the type. Quick drums, peppy keyboards, everything about it upbeat and celebratory and refreshing in the same sort of way that “O Praise Him” did all those years ago. It’s a strong happy moment before we dive into the deeper and more despairing parts of the requiem narrative – Crowder is contemplating the day of his resurrection, the state of being brought back from the brink of darkness and despair, and he’s overjoyed to have been found and rescued. Reading it on the page, the lyrics seem fragmented and even a bit naively simplistic at times, but there are a lot of Crowder songs that can feel that way at first if you don’t consider the weight given to them by the surrounding context.
Grade: B+

The Plea (or, the Kyrie)

5. God Have Mercy (Kyrie Eleison)
Digging a bit deeper into the liturgy now, we happen upon this moodier track, with an extremely forceful backbeat, as the clanging of chimes and a minor-key guitar loop provide the main melodic hook. A one-line prayer is pushed almost to its breaking point here, as Crowder begs “Oh God, have mercy” again and again. What sells it is the increasing vocal intensity, most notable when Crowder breaks out of this pattern for the bridge. The whole thing has a very modern, cool aura to it, which quite deliberately challenges our preconception of what a traditional, repetitive prayer is supposed to sound like. But then, if you’re familiar with the Mr. Mister song that somehow managed to turn a Latin phrase into a mainstream hit, this juxtaposition might not sound so strange to you.
Grade: B+

6. Why Me?
Well, this one comes right the heck out of nowhere. I generally enjoy Crowder’s genre-hoppping, but I’ll admit it’s bizarre to quite suddenly drop a slow acoustic track stopping just short of Johnny Cash-style balladry into the midle of a largely rock, pop, and electronic-oriented segment of the album. It’s thematically important, since Crowder is reflecting on our complete inability to earn grace or to pay God back for it after the fact. But this attempt to sound “folksy” would have worked better on the second disc, I suspect. It also doesn’t help that there’s some awkward and redundant phrasing, such as “Lord, help me Jesus”. (Think about it. Would you ever say, “Sir, excuse me mister?” One honorific generally suffices.)
Grade: C-

7. Fall on Your Knees
Now we’re back to the electric-guitar driven, contemporary worship that Crowder is more known for and that could easily adapt to a lot of modern church services. It’s not the most mind-blowing thing that Crowder could do at this point, but it’s logical enough to give fans a stylistic walk down memory lane, this being their last album and all. This one expresses awe and wonder at the concept of grace, and it would have followed on just fine from “God Have Mercy” if they’d chosen to sequence things that way. When I listen to this song and it finally arrives at the bit of wordplay that gives it meaning, I’m reminded of my initial reaction to “Wholly Yours” when A Collision first came out, and how I thought the “wholly”/”holy” thing was a bad and overused pun, but the song eventually grew on me. Crowder’s pulling a similar fast one here, wedging the line “Fall on your knees in wonder” up against itself multiple times so that “wonder/Fall” sounds just like “wonderful”. I kind of roll my eyes at that one, but then maybe I’m hearing a joke where a joke was not intended.
Grade: B

The Plight (or, the Gradual and the Tract)

8. A Burial
This is a spoken interlude, containing an except from a eulogy at someone’s funeral. The priest is speaking English, but slips into a Latin prayer at the end. It fits the death/rebirth theme that runs throughout the album, but I tend to have mixed feelings about purely spoken tracks on albums that are supposed to be communicating something with music. Like, could there have been a way to keep the music flowing in the background to help things transition more smoothly? As it is, it leads rather jarringly into the next song.

9. Let Me Feel You Shine
And, with that next song being the album’s first single, there are likely to be a lot of frustrated listeners wanting to put this song on mixes for themselves or for friends, who get stymied every time by how abruptly it cuts in, inseparable from the “non-music” track that precedes it. Maybe there’s a radio edit that they’ll be able to use (assuming it doesn’t butcher the song in some other way)? Anyway, setting that issue aside, this is another one of the songs that the DCB debuted on their final tour, and it’s a fun, driving rock track with strong power chords, stronger drums, and a massive vocal hook. I’ll be honest and say that it’s a bit of a cheap ploy, throwing those “whoa-oa-oa”s in there just to make it easy to sing along (likely a calculated move since they only got to play it live for audiences who weren’t familiar with the song), but there’s a part of me that has to admit, it works. Fortunately the actual chorus is also quite catchy when those “whoa”s lead into it. The song speaks of God’s light shining into an otherwise depressing, wearying place that threatens the very fabric of our faith. They’re hitting the “shine” theme pretty hard on this album (and arguably, “SMS (Shine)” and most of Illuminate have already more than covered this topic), but to be fair, that is an appropriate mood for this point in the order of service that this album has been following.
Grade: B

10. Reprise #1
Here, Mike Hogan‘s string arrangement teases at the melody from “Oh Great God, Give Us Rest”, which is obviously a recurring motif for the album. This sort of reminds me of the “Quiet Interludes” from A Collision.
Grade: B

11. Blessedness of Everlasting Light
This is perhaps the most deliciously weird thing on the album. Ringing bells, accordion and rolling drums in 3/4 almost remind me of circus music. (It’s the way Bwack‘s drums hit on counts 2 and 3 while the melody sways about with so much melodrama – I could swear I’m watching some guy ride a unicycle across a tightrope or something.) I have to wonder if they thought about the little “gypsy interlude” from Church Music‘s “Eastern Hymn”, and said to themselves, “Hey, we should write an entire song that sounds like this.” A song that asks God to shine His light and hold back His wrath had better have a good amount of drama to it, of course, and I think there’s a bit of subtext here, as if to say that the light that brings good is also that same horrible and painful wrath that we shrink away from, because it has to wipe out the darkness infesting our own hearts. I could be making that up. But given that we’re being set up for a deeper or exploration of that wrath and what it means to be spared from it, I’d like to think I’m on the right track. Either way, this is my favorite song on either of the two discs.
Grade: A+

12. The Sound of Light
“Blessedness” segues beautifully into a reflective classical guitar interlude – a really nice touch by bassist, keyboardist, cellist, and all-around Renaissance man Mike Dodson.
Grade: A-

13. Interlude
And the outro gets its own outro, in the form of a rolling, highly dramatic piano piece. I prefer to look at tracks 11-13 as one continuous piece, given how seamlessly they fit together.
Grade: A-

The Sequence (or, the Dies Irae)

14. Sequence 1
THUD. A harsh piano chord and the sound of an explosion kick off an intense little song about a day of wrath and mourning. (Cheery, huh? To be fair, this is the same band who had “God of Wrath” as one of their very first singles, so you shouldn’t be all that surprised.) The “Dies Irae” is apparently the most commonly skipped portion of the requiem mass nowadays, which is understandable since people don’t really like songs about doom and gloom in their worship services. But it’s hard to argue with this interpretation, which favors thundering drums and white-hot guitar soloing, sort of a progressive metal approach, if you can believe it. It’s just the first of seven segments, most of which wouldn’t work as isolated songs, but all of which combine to create a sixteen-minute long statement that is greater than the sum of the parts.
Grade: A

15. Sequence 2
Here, the sense of foreboding gets ratcheted up even higher, by way of Ominous Latin Chanting (TM). This is the sort of thing we’d expect from the soundtrack to a movie where something dire, desctructive, and wholly supernatural is happening on screen, likely driven by conspicuous amounts of CGI. The drums are still heavy here, but the emphasis is more on piano than guitar. It’s the only point at which I’d dare to call the DCB “goth”. Guitarist Mark Waldrop came up with this one, in addition to composing the previous track with Crowder, so it’s safe to say he’s the metalhead in the band.
Grade: A

16. Sequence 3
As the craziness of the last two tracks dies out, we get eerie yet angelic keyboards leading into a pounding drum march driven by more conventional power chords on the guitar – this more anthemic track composed by Mike Hogan marks a sort of transition between everything falling apart and everything being reborn.
Grade: B+

17. Sequence 4
Waldrop and Dodson collaborated to come up with this gentle acoustic track, which breathes with new life like a river flowing into a dry and thirsty land. The vocals actually sound like someone other than Crowder is singing lead while he covers backup – I can’t identify the voice from any other DCB song. I love the interweaving acoustic guitars here, and it gets really beautiful once the stately, marching drums come pouring in, as well as the violin and banjo (yes, banjo – they know how to use it in a non-twangy context, too). A simple chorus of “God You came, my God You came down” anchors a song of thankfulness for the sacrifice that Christ made. If you had to pull out any one element of the sequence to stand alone, this would be the best candidate.
Grade: A-

18. Sequence 5
We kick back into high electric mode here. So far the transitions between these disparate styles have been almost flawless. But it’s a bit of mood whiplash here, since we’ve turned back to despair – “You left me in the dark/Not so much as a spark/You left me in the cold/Left me here on my own”. I forget about that easily enough, since guitarist Jack Parker‘s contribution aims for the same heights of guitar glory that “God Almighty, None Compares” did on Church Music. It fits with the pleas for mercy and rest throughout the album. Just when we’re hitting a climax is where the Sequence seems to stumble a bit, though.
Grade: A

19. Sequence 6
The transition to a short piece written by Crowder is jarring and completely takes me out of the moment. It had to have been intentional, but just when we were getting into the epic rockage of part 5 is an odd time is a really odd time to skip to a stripped-back acoustic track with one repeating line and Crowder’s voice sounding cracked and weary – “I bow low with all my heart”. Fortunately it’s the shortest part of the sequence.
Grade: C

20. Sequence 7
Coming to a complete stop between segments of what is supposed to be a continuous, seven-part suite seems like cheating, but still, this is a nice little blend of Crowder’s classical and electronic tendencies (which he wrote with Bwack). It feels like another song starting up, only to end all too soon (the last two pieces of the Sequence are under two minutes each). The plea “Spare us, oh God”, coming at the moment of truth on Judgment Day, makes a hair-raising climax to close the first disc, but I find myself wishing that segments 5, 6, and 7 could have been tied together in more of a satisfying way, rather than feeling like tacked-on fragments.
Grade: B

Well, this is getting to be a long review (not like I didn’t expect that), and I think it’s fair to say that I could use a time out before diving into the second disc. I wouldn’t blame you for needing one too. So, see you folks on the flipside…

DISC TWO

The Invocation (or, the Offertory and the Sanctus)

21. Reprise #2
We start the second half of the album with another reprise of the “Oh Great God, Give Us Rest” theme, this time with what sounds like a toy piano or perhaps some sort of plucked string instrument with a slight Eastern flair to it. This is pretty, but just like with the first track on the first disc, they make the mistake of starting the second track’s music (a few bars of guitar strumming in this case) before the first track has ended.
Grade: B

22. Oh My God
Coming in at a close second in the contest for my personal favorite track on the album is this song, which couldn’t quite pull it off without being attached to the one that follows it. It’s fast-paced an acoustic, which reminds me of the vibe of a few standout tracks from Illuminate, though the bass plunking out a familiar high-low-high-low pattern, combined with Mike Hogan fiddling around on the violin, give it a bit of a hoedown feel reminiscent of their Collision-era genre-hopping. The mood has definitely passed on from despair into a celebration of being born again, with this being a song that asks how we can respond, what we can give back to God as a measure of gratitude.
Grade: A+

23. I Am a Seed
The music stops for only a quick breath, but picks up again with an almost identical rhythm, and that’s why I say that these two tracks are pretty much inseparable. This one dives deeper into the metaphor of offering ourselves to God, imagining the human soul as a seed, sacrificed to be planted beneath the ground, but one day rising up as a strong, hearty tree. While its verse and chorus are melodically distinct from “Oh My God”, it quite clearly reprises that song’s melody in its bridge, so together you get a good five minutes and change of fast-paced, folksy delight. This is how the concept of an offering should feel like in modern churches, rather than just “Here’s a guilt trip, now give us your money”. To be so excited for God that you just want to give back because it’s coming from the inside of you… there’s a place I want to learn to be.
Grade: A+

24. After All (Holy)
This love song follows in the vein of your standard DCB praise song, with the twist that it’s in 6/8 time. It’s mid-tempo, but the drum programming that gradually gets overtaken by Bwack’s drums gives it a beautiful rolling effect, not overbearingly bouncy or poppy, but with the waves cresting in all the right places. It’s simply a song of wonder, about God’s incomprehensible beauty. The chorus is another one of those “easy to sing by design” ones, simply stretching out the word “holy” and leaving the lyrical heavy lifting (alright, light lifting) to the verses.
Grade: B+

25. The Great Amen
You know how in old-school church services where they sing hymns, you’ll get that stern, flat “Amen” at the end of a song? This is one of those, repeated and magnified until it’s practically bellowing out of the speakers. Pretty cool effect, to take something plain like that and use it to make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.
Grade: B

The Consummation and the Memory (or, the Agnus Dei, the Communion, and the Pie Jesu)

26. There Is a Sound
This is the longest song on the album, though when I look back on it later I don’t seem to recall it as being overly long. That’s probably because the song doesn’t stand out as much to me musically, though it isn’t dull or overbearingly long, either. I think it’s biggest weakness is that they’re running out of creativity with the words and just stringing together a lot of names for God (“To God be the glory/Spirit, Father, Jesus Christ”) The electric guitar drives the song, though it is interestingly combined with the banjo, and Bwack’s rhythm sort of reminds me of “A Beautiful Collision”. He pushes it into overdrive near the end of the song, which almost saves it from the B-side heap.
Grade: B

27. Oh, Great Love of God
Now I’m starting to get songs mixed up because the song titles are similar. (No less than three tracks on this album are basically titled “Oh, Something God Something Else”.) This is another mid-tempo electric tune, and at this point I would understand you getting confused and/or starting to tune out due to the less distinctive nature of one song after the next. I’ll put this one up there with “Oh, Happiness” from Church Music in terms of its ringing chorus and its overall exuberance, though it doesn’t quite have the identifiable hook that “Happiness” did. It’s like another go-to track for Sunday morning worship leaders, assuming they make it this far into the album, but the DCB has already shown that they can be more innovative than this, so I don’t know why it really needed to make the cut.
Grade: C+

28. Our Communion
This one quite intentionally mirrors “Oh Great God, Give Us Rest” by starting as a bare, acoustic ballad, but as it grows, it becomes increasingly bluegrassy, eventually dovetailing with a joyous reprise of the aforementioned song in its infectiously upbeat climax. This reprisal serves as a sort of bookend, and it would make the most sense to place this right before the final acoustic section of the album. It has the unfortunate side effect of making the songs that follow feel like bonus tracks just thrown in to stuff the album with as much material as possible.
Grade: A-

The Absolution (or, the Libere Me and the Paridisium)

29. Sometimes
I’d move this one up to a bit earlier in the tracklisting if I had my way. Here, it feels like an afterthought after the intentional bookend of “Our Communion”. It deserves a more noticeable placement because it’s quite beautiful in its restraint. Atmospheric keyboards lead off this slow ballad, the kind that I can easily picture weepy college students raising their hands to in some Passion video. (I promise that this isn’t an insult. It’s really quite moving.) I get a strong nostalgic vibe, like this tune came from a simpler era when it could have easily fit into the back half of Can You Hear Us? or Illuminate. It’s beautiful without needing to be overly complex. It’s honest in how it calls out to Christians who are hurting, saying we’ve all been there and God identifies with this. The image of God’s love being “a sea without a shore” and Crowder’s response that “we’re lost in you” are easy to dismiss as stock worship song phrasing, but the imagery is evocative enough that I still find it compelling. My only problem here is a bit of pronoun confusion as the verse transitions to the chorus – “When you’ve given up, let your healing come”. “You” is both a person needing God’s love, and God giving that love. One of those “you”s needs to be changed to the first or third person to make it clear who is singing to whom.
Grade: A-

30. A Return
Another sign that this album is longer than it needs to be is the presence of a half-baked idea like this, showing up late in the game, giving us the climax of what sounds like it would be an awesome full-length song, but getting there way too quickly and easily to really sink in. Lyrics are few, and I can sort of gather that it’s a prodigal son story, but they don’t really take the time to set up the premise before hitting the electrified refrain, “The son has come home, we’re rejoicing/The son has come home, rejoice my soul.” One could argue that the entire album up to this point represents that journey, but if so, this would have played better as an outro or a reprise more clearly attached to an earlier song. This barely runs for two minutes and then we’re on to something completely different.
Grade: C-

31. Oh, My God I’m Coming Home
Very bad idea here, to follow a short repetitive song with a deliberately repetitive, stripped-down interlude. It’s just Crowder and an acoustic guitar, singing again and again “Oh my God, I’m coming home/To the glory, hallelujah.” It works as a sonic segue between the plugged-in and unplugged stuff, as the sound gradually recedes and you get a mental picture of Crowder driving up to the barn where the final tracks from this album were recorded (since the rest of it was all done collaboratively over the Internet), and meeting his bandmates in person for the last time for a walk down memory lane. This might have worked better immediately following “Our Communion”.
Grade: D+

32. Leaning on the Everlasting Arms / ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
From here on out, the album is nearly flawless. I’m sure your opinion of this may diverge wildly from mine if you’re not into the sort of Southern, twangy roots music that is prone to happen in certain parts of Texas. I love it because it’s culturally significant for the guys in the band and thematically significant for the final segment of the album. Completely reconfigured, banjo and mandolin replacing the more familiar electric axes that Jack Parker and Mark Waldrop normally employ, the group emerges as a bluegrass outfit, playing a medley of two favorite hymns, primarily for an audience of themselves plus one. The tempo here is breezy without feeling like they have to amp it up just to make old music sound “cool” or anything. The guys are simply having a good time celebrating the memories of everything God has done for them during their tenure as a band. Finally hearing the band record “‘Tis So Sweet” in full is an interesting callback to their version of “Deliver Me” from Illuminate, which teases at a few lines from the hymn but leaves the chorus to trail off. Here, the thought is completed, the prayer answered.
Grade: B+

33. Jesus, Lead Me to Your Healing Waters
This one’ll full you into thinking it’s another old-school hymn from somewhere in the Deep South, but it’s actually the last original David Crowder Band composition to be recorded. Due to the applause between songs and the brief bits of chatter in between, it can almost feel like the album ends in a live EP dropped in from another world entirely, but I like how effortlessly this enables them to slip an original song in there with a few classics. The music sways with the swagger of a Southern revival (minus the hellfire and brimstone, I guess), and everyone is singing along and just having a blast. Listen to the little flourishes from the mandolin and banjo, and you’ll get a healthy reminder that this genre of music, though it seems like a relic from a quaint era gone by, has a certain complexity and richness that requires a bit of knowing one’s instrument to really pull it off.
Grade: A

34. Because He Lives
The final thought that the band chooses to leave us with is a solemn, traditional, but emotionally charged rendition of a well-known Bill Gaither hymn. I didn’t fully realize the significance of it when they played it on their tour last fall. It’s an extremely plainspoken rendition, almost to the point where I found it boring at first, but there’s something about how they hold those notes in the chorus that makes it work, that sheds new light on lyrics I’ve known since my childhood. The subtext here is that the band is ending, the future is unknown, and only God knows the future for these guys (and for us fans devastated at their breakup and wondering who will take up the mantle in their absence), but He has promised that it will be good. Amen.
Grade: B

WHAT’S IT WORTH TO ME?
Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis, Domine (N/A)
Oh Great God, Give Us Rest $1.25
Lux Aeternam Shine (N/A)
Come Find Me $1.25
God Have Mercy (Kyrie Eleison) $1.25
Why Me? $0
Fall on Your Knees $.75
A Burial (N/A)
Let Me Feel You Shine $1
Reprise #1 $.50
Blessedness of Everlasting Light $2
The Sound of Light / Interlude $1.50
Sequence 1 / Sequence 2 $1.75
Sequence 3 $1.25
Sequence 4 $1.75
Sequence 5 $1.75
Sequence 6 / Sequence 7 $.75
TOTAL (DISC ONE): $16.75
Reprise #2 $.50
Oh My God / I Am a Seed $2
After All (Holy) $1.25
The Great Amen $.50
There Is a Sound $.75
Oh, Great Love of God $.50
Our Communion $1.25
Sometimes $1.25
A Return $0
Oh, My God I’m Coming Home -$0.25
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms / ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus $1.25
Jesus, Lead Me to Your Healing Waters $1.75
Because He Lives $1
TOTAL (DISC TWO): $11.75
GRAND TOTAL: $28.50

BAND MEMBERS:
David Crowder: Lead vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, keytar, piano, theremin, programming
Jack Parker: Electric guitar, backing vocals, Rhodes piano, mandolin, banjo
Mike Dodson: Bass, keyboards, cello
Mike Hogan: Violin, strings, turntables, guitar, keyboards
Jeremy Bush (a.k.a. Bwack): Drums, percussion, bells, programming
Mark Waldrop: Electric guitar, mandolin, backing vocals

LISTEN FOR YOURSELF:
http://open.spotify.com/album/0drr3h6hP9p4lDhZ6n2U8X

USEFUL LINKS:
http://www.davidcrowderband.com/
http://www.facebook.com/davidcrowderband

Originally published on Epinions.com.

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7 thoughts on “David Crowder Band – Give Us Rest Or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys]): Requiem for a Dream Fulfilled

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