They Can’t Define Us Anymore: My Top 20 Gungor Songs

If you’ve never heard of Gungor at all, and your first question upon hearing a song of theirs is, “Is this a Christian band?”, then my answer is: Yes. No. Kinda.

Normally in this monthly column, I’m going to be writing about bands that are defunct, or at the very least have stopped recording and touring for the foreseeable future. Gungor is a curious exception, because there are literally days to go in the band’s farewell tour. A week or so from when I publish this, Gungor as a distinct musical entity will be considered a thing of the past. Its two members, Michael and Lisa Gungor, certainly have plans to continue making music, just not under that name. I’m intrigued to see what these two might cook up with all past constraints and preconceived notions completely gone. I feel like they’ve already done a bang-up job of challenging our assumptions, not just about the kind of music they make but about the parameters that define the Christian faith ourselves, over the years. It seems like now’s as good a time as any to honor the end of an era, and take a (shorter than my usual) walk down memory lane to revisit my favorite songs that the duo have put out in the eight years I’ve considered myself a fan.

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Crowder – I Know a Ghost: Is it time to “ghost” an old favorite?

Artist: Crowder
Album: I Know a Ghost
Year: 2018
Grade: C

In Brief: There’s too much material, and a distressing amount of it is rather bland. I’ll always admire Crowder’s penchant for mashing up different genres into his own unique little worship service, but he’s starting to do it in ways that feel a bit cliched, in light of these things not being considered risky in modern pop music for some time now.

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Crowder – American Prodigal: Out of the ruins, back to communion.

2016_crowder_americanprodigalArtist: Crowder
Album: American Prodigal
Year: 2016
Grade: B

In Brief: The genre mash-up works a lot better here than it did on Neon Steeple, feeling more like a statement of identity than a mere gimmick. What Crowder may lack in lyrical specificity, he more than makes up for by bringing urban and rural sounds together in intriguing ways.

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Gungor – One Wild Life: Body – We’ve come a long way, we keep on evolving.

2016_gungor_onewildlifebodyArtist: Gungor
Album: One Wild Life: Body
Year: 2016
Grade: B

In Brief: While Soul still has the highest concentration of my personal favorite songs from the One Wild Life trilogy, the sheer ambition of Body and the stylistic ground covered here is hard to ignore. It’s a brave, albeit imperfect and somewhat awkwardly paced, album from a band that continues to challenge the notion of what “Christian music” should be about.

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Gungor – One Wild Life: Spirit – Consonance isn’t always peaceful. Dissonance isn’t always evil.

2016_Gungor_OneWildLife_SpiritArtist: Gungor
Album: One Wild Life: Spirit
Year: 2016
Grade: B-

In Brief: While more upbeat and rhythmic than its predecessor Soul, Gungor stumbles slightly in the lyrics department here by being a little too vague about their spirituality at times while being a little too didactic when they get more specific. I don’t disagree with anything they’ve got to say here; I just question whether this is the best way to present these thoughts in musical form.

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Gungor – One Wild Life: Soul – You cannot love in moderation.

2015_Gungor_OneWildLifeSoulArtist: Gungor
Album: One Wild Life: Soul
Year: 2015
Grade: B

In Brief: At times immediate and delightful, and at times slow, cerebral and perplexing, the opening chapter in Gungor’s new trilogy of albums celebrates the gift of life and the sense of loving unity that should be felt when Christians are at their best, at times coming back around to embrace the “contemporary worship” tag we once applied to their music, while still challenging the norms of that genre in fascinating ways.

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Crowder – Neon Steeple: Open the door and see all the party people.

2014_Crowder_NeonSteepleArtist: Crowder
Album: Neon Steeple
Year: 2014
Grade: B

In Brief: While the genre mish-mash gets a bit gimmicky and it doesn’t quite have the depth of the David Crowder Band’s best albums, I appreciate Crowder’s ongoing commitment to being creative and eclectic within the confines of “modern worship”.

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