> cMusicWeb.com > Pop > Casting Crowns > Casting Crowns

Looking for something new? Our latest news and articles are at inReview.net

[ casting crowns ]


advertise here





Casting Crowns - Click to view!What do you get when you take a seasoned youth pastor with a flair for telling the brutal truth, a few worship leaders, and award-winning singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman? The result is Beach Street Records's flagship artist Casting Crowns, the brainchild of young adult minister Mark Hall.

A few years ago, Hall assembled a crack team of worship and youth leaders and hit the churches of Atlanta with two independent albums. Once discovered by Mark Miller of country group Sawyer Brown, the Crowns got Mr. "Great Adventure" himself to produce their self-titled debut. Chapman found a special and unique quality in their music, and Miller said, "There's a big powerful rock message here." They had all the necessary ingredients to be the next big thing… at least in theory.

Casting Crowns is a pop album with a lot of heart but little to else of novelty. Trying hard to be edgy by adding a lot of guitar, it comes off no more hardcore than your local worship band. The record is split into six contemporary Top 40-ish tunes and four praise songs you could hear next Sunday morning. Casting Crowns may inspire you but don't expect to be wowed.

Musically, Casting Crowns is barely tapping originality. Most of the songs leave you wondering why they need seven people in the band. With accordions and violins, they could have that mega-band sound quality that characterizes groups like the Dave Matthews Band and Salvador. Instead, their music falls flat with a lack of diversity.

Frontman Hall's raspy, earnest vocals mimic that of Jeremy Camp's or Chad Kroeger's. If someone told me their song "American Dream" was secretly performed by Nickelback, I'd be none the wiser until I read the liner notes.

Don't write this band off as a copy cat just yet though. The saving grace of this record is in the lyrics. Hall is not afraid to say the things that hide underneath catchy hooks in watery songs written for mass appeal. Hall's songwriting details the victories, struggles, and desires that comprise Christianity with a brilliant clarity. Each track is easy to identify with while challenging listeners to be more than just benchwarmers in their Christian walk.

"If We Are the Body" seeks to break down church walls and rediscover that God's love extends farther than fathomable. Hall compels his audience with: "Jesus paid much too high a price / For us to pick and choose who should come." In "What if His People Prayed", Hall ponders the radical change that could occur if Christians delved deeper into God. He writes: "What if the life that we pursue / Came from a hunger for the truth / What if the family turned to Jesus / Stopped asking Oprah what to do."

The pop songs hit hard lyrically, but none are as candid and vulnerable as "Here I Go Again." Here, Hall airs his frustrations about sharing the gospel with a long time friend. Hall calls this song "the prayer you're praying as you walk up to your friend, and then you blow it." He sings: "So maybe this time / I'll speak the words of life / With your fire in my eyes / But that old familiar fear / Is tearing at my words / What am I so afraid of?"

As a whole, Casting Crowns is held together by a couple of strong, radio-ready singles such as "If We Are the Body" and "Who I Am." Their praise songs muddle together where it's almost pointless to give them different names and track numbers. The only one that stands out is a nicely done cover of Darrell Evans' "Your Love is Extravagant."

The lackluster melodies of Casting Crowns drive the powerful lyrics to the forefront. All in all, Casting Crowns' debut makes an adequate addition to any music collection and shows promise that their next project may be a total package.
- Jennifer Jones
February 2004
Articles written by the staff.
Maintained by WebMaster Dan Ficker.
Site Design by da Man
All Material © 1999-2005 Different Media LLC
Support cMusicWeb.com