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ILLUMINATE (2003)
Illuminate - Click to view!Think a moment of how important light is to your daily life. After counting how often you flip on a light switch, one can imagine why God made sure to create light before any other element. On Illuminate, David Crowder Band takes the concept of illumination and uses it as the central trunk from which all other songs radiate. This project reflects the passion and energy of Can You Hear Us? and transports the band to a new level of creation.

The theme of light ties every song together to form a unified whole, yet it doesn't distract the listener from a genuine worship experience. "O Praise Him (All This For a King)" becomes a modern Psalm with lines like, "Turn your ear / to heaven and hear / the noise inside / Turn your gaze / to heaven and raise / a joyous noise / O praise Him / O praise Him / He is holy / He is holy." "Open Skies" opens with an up-beat guitar and violin duet that sounds a bit R&B in style. The catchy rhythm proves to be enough inspiration for listeners to respond when David Crowder urges, "Let us dance, let us sing / it could be heavenly." "No One Like You" changes to light punk-rock in style. Having experienced this song in concert, I know people will have no trouble jumping to a tune chock full of drums and distortion.

Speaking of drums, Zach Lind of Jimmy Eat World fame played drums on "Open Skies" and "How Great." A long time fan of David Crowder Band and a professing Christian, Lind emailed Crowder one day to express how much he enjoyed Can You Hear Us? Eventually the two met, and the band appreciated the fresh insight Lind gave to their sound.

One of my favorite moments on the CD is "All Creatures #2," the hymn penned by St. Francis of Assisi. The band had recorded the song initially on their independent project, All I Can Say, but "#2" has an increased tempo, a fresh string section, and a triangle-like instrument that adds a sweet touch. Another moment I enjoy is "Only You," sung as a love song/petition to God. The lyrics and light acoustic arrangement bring tears to my eyes: "Take my fret, take my fear / All I have I'm leaving here / Be all my hopes, be all my dreams / Be all my delights, be my everything / And it's just You and me here now / Only You and me here now."

David Crowder says the theme of Illuminate culminates in the last song, "Stars." He writes, "This tells the story of what we want to say with this record-we who were in darkness were found by the light. Though the darkness seems to be all encompassing, light is coming. Light is here. We can be light and bring the message of rescue and redemption." Crowder sings, "And I want to shine / I want to be light / I want to tell you / It'll be alright." This band is a light, and each member reflects that light through these songs. Illuminate successfully demonstrates David Crowder Band's development and growth, both musically and spiritually.
- Hollie Stewart
February 2004
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