Review

LABEL: SIXSTEPSRECORDS
RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 10, 2012

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ive Us Rest or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys]) marks the end of something truly magnificent. Born out of a sole church’s music ministry, the music of David Crowder*Band has touched millions in ways that could not have been imagined when they first started 17 years ago. Ridiculously popular and incredibly influential; the band have been monumental in pioneering an innovative, ingenious approach to worship.

The expectations surrounding this last album have been phenomenal. And rightly so. Right from their signed release “Can You Hear Us?”, David Crowder*Band have been setting standards. Their last studio release “Church Music” (not counting “Oh For Joy” their Christmas project) narrowly missed the US Top Ten Albums of 2009, coming in at No 11. Even if Give Us Rest was more of the same, the legions of fans would have been happy. Even the critics didn’t dare hope for something greater than previous offerings.

The fans were right. It’s more of the same – if by ‘same’ you mean – yet another earth-shattering magnum opus which defies belief. Yet, at 100 minutes long, this is definitely Crowder like you’ve never heard before. A Requiem? A funeral mass? Smatterings of Latin, snippets of choral music, clips of bluegrass, notes of rock, grand instrumental tracks , simple compositions and everything in between. It should be impossible. I guess with David Crowder*Band, I should get used to being wrong.

The work is split into two discs. Each is interspersed with delightful soundbites; the scattering of interludes throughout keep the long listening an entertaining experience. Disc 1 is focuses on death, dying, grief and sorrow. As we (literally) enter in with   “Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis, Domine”  (Grant them eternal rest, Lord), the disc is a cry for help, a plea for rest. Disc 2 has a different although complementary theme: the joy of life after death, the assurance that death is not the end, because as title of the final track reminds us “Because He Lives”.

I don’t want to give too much away. Part of the fun of listening to “Give Us Rest” is discovering the unexpected. The element of surprise is an essential ingredient to enjoying this mega-album. However, the review would not be complete without acknowledging what I believe are some career-defining moments. They are everywhere. Take “After All (Holy)” an anthem of unrestrained praise; its freeflow is perfectly juxtaposed with the strict choral regulations of “The Great Amen”. Genre-hopping is not an easy feat; it can make a project sound disjointed and incoherent. Yet the constant shifts in style, the changes in tempo and mood throughout this LP only show off the band’s encyclopaedic knowledge of music.

The “sequences” of Disc 1 are a real treat. Each has its own distinctive musical influence; let warn you – don’t underestimate the band’s sense of humour. These seven tracks alone will win them legions of fans, that is, if there is anyone else still unconvinced about these bona fide legends. I loved the instrumental “Sequence 3”, but was still completed bowled over by “Sequence 4” with its uncomplicated refrain “My God you came… down”. “Sequence 7” closes out the disc but I was only left wanting more.

Lyrically, as always, the band points to God. “Sometimes” explores doubt and unbelief, “Sometimes, every one of us feels, like we’ll never be healed.” Yet the chorus completes the message-  “We’re lost in you… Don’t be afraid”. “Why Me?” recognises that our lives are completely in the God’s hands whilst “Fall On Your Knees” attempts to describe the grandeur of God. As well their instinctive creative abilities, Crowder and his crew do not disappoint in the lyrics department.

One of the signs of a truly great artist is the ability to take a classic and make it one’s own. Crowder’s interpretation of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms/’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” is a flawless example of effortless class. Compared to the rest of the album, the track is conspicuously simple: this only enhances its impact. The same can be said of the Gaither cover “Because He Lives” which closes the album. Churches everywhere will be scrambling to re-introduce the classic into their programmes. The influence Crowder has on the church music seems set to continue.

David Crowder*Band have been always relentless in their pursuit of doing music better than before. Ever unconventional, always full of endearing quirks (I know I shall miss their parentheses everywhere), the gap they leave is a considerable one. It’s difficult to imagine a future without them. What a triumphant finish! Give Us Rest or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys]) is a masterpiece, one that totally eclipses what many thought was possible.  Yet, if they’ve taught us anything, it is to never underestimate the power in worship. That’s a true legacy.

–Lydia Akinola