Can You Hear Us?
- reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2002 1 Feb
David Crowder knows exactly what the youth of the nation have on their minds these days. He's been an active music and arts pastor at University Baptist Church, as well as the leader of the eponymous band he founded in Waco, Texas. Crowder, along with his backing band, is no stranger to performing in front of teens and young adults, both those directly plugged into his home church as well as students all across the country. The David Crowder Band was first heard nationally on Passion's
Although Crowder seems to be directly in tune with what's happening in college worship circles, his band's label debut Can You Hear Us? lacks the spice to make it stand out from all the rest. Sure, the Passion movement is loaded with talented artists (including Chris Tomlin and Charlie Hall), but perhaps Crowder would have made more of a statement developing some of his own musical sentiments. There's no doubt the opening prelude, "I Need Words," builds emotion from its touching acoustic arrangements and moving vocals. It's just that such a sound has been heard time and time again. Such similarity follows during the band's energetic "Our Love Is Loud" and the bookend track "Undignified." Both are clearly influenced by Sonicflood's groove-induced rendition of "Open the Eyes of My Heart." Although that inspiration is liberal on both songs, it doesn't take away from the hit potential of "Our Love Is Loud," nor does it detract interest from Matt Redman's signature lyrics on "Undignified."
Besides covering that Redman track, Crowder and company interpret Delirious' "Obsession" and the Sinead O'Connor-penned "Thank You for Hearing Me." The first follows the original relatively closely but is much shorter with more of an acoustic base. Delirious' version is known for its U2-inspired ("All I Want Is You") intensified ending, while Crowder's version has a much milder fade out. It may surprise fans that a Christian act would offer their take on an O'Connor song, especially since her last big claim to fame was tearing up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live. Regardless of O'Connor's controversial treatment of the papacy, her introspective songwriting easily can be interpreted in a spiritual context. The band also incorporates a slight world beat into their arsenal for "Thank You for Hearing Me," perhaps inspired from O'Connor's time on the Peter Gabriel-led WOMAD tour, which culled together eclectic percussion-heavy acts from all across the world.
The group also mixes things up slightly on "My Hope," thanks mostly to a luminous series of violins and thick guitar strums, along with "God of Creation," an easy-rock song with angelic female backing vocals. But on "Wonderful King" Crowder's voice once again resembles Redman's. The simplistic praise ballad clocks in at over six minutes, which is much more repetitive than even the most engulfing worship song needs to be on a modern-pop-driven album.
Despite the album's musical shortcomings, I must at least acknowledge the band's sincerity when it comes to their faith and performance style. The David Crowder Band has clearly sold me on the fact that they base their entire existence around encouraging youth and wholeheartedly serving their maker. The group is also very passionate about what they hope to convey with this recording. "The album has two themes," reveals Crowder. "First, there's the fact that sometimes we all feel disconnected from God, so we confront that condition several times. Second, and more often, there's the breakthrough realization that we're living in the constant presence of God. And when we realize that, we can't help by get excited!" If you like any of the other artists listed in this review, there's no doubt the David Crowder Band will tickle your fancy. For those seeking innovation in worship music, you'd best look elsewhere.