Friday, September 23

Review: Collision: David Crowder

There's some stuff that stinks about working at a big church. One thing, though, that is cool is that our church has a bookstore. And someone has to approve each CD that goes in . . . and that someone is me. So, even though the album doesn't come out for another week, I've got a copy of the new DavidCrowderBand CD.

I've been looking forward to this for sometime now. Kudos to DCB/Sparrow for keeping my attention with a remix album, the lime CD, the Praise Habit book and the Passion albums, but this album was due. I happen to (sort of) know David personally. We recorded the theme music to WalkInTheWord together (me: keys, synth bass and synth drums -- him: guitar and vocals). He's in the speed-dial on my phone (#36), and I always hear from him when I call.

David Crowder is amazingly misunderstood. (Also, when I say "David Crowder", please search for contextual clues that will indicate if I mean the man, or his band. Or, perhaps, both.) Christianity Today once reviewed their album, Can You Hear Us?, called it SONICFLOOD inspired, and ended "For those seeking innovation in worship music, you'd best look elsewhere." Honestly, guys, did you listen to the album? The next CT review contained almost an apology, saying "One of the things I appreciate most about Crowder is the desire to be creative and innovative with his art." Gosh.

Don't let the hair, gottee and crazy pop references fool you - David Crowder is one of the most thoughtful and well-read people in Christianity. And not in the "make a dramatic sentence for your album review" sense. I meant it in the "most thoughtful and well-read people in Christianity" sense.

OK . . . enough generalities. This album.

The music may surprise those of us who thought that "Sunsets and Sushi" was simply a side project. It was not. Nor was their "Secret Ambition" for the MWS tribute album. These were imporant steps in this group's developement. This album has a lot more of the same ProTools/Reason/Propellerhead artistry that Crowder&Co have come to love. There is also few splashes of orchestral/soundtrack and semi-orchestral music in some interludes, as well as some bluegrass (or newgrass) moments in the intro and the I Saw The Light track.

Think, perhaps, of the result if Hail2theThief (radiohead) and WeAreHuman (daft punk) had a kid. With visits from Union Station and Hans Zimmer. Is that clear?

Lyrically, Crowder has always been championed by the YS and Emerging crew. I find this ironic. Sometime, read his intro to Dan Kimball's book on Emerging Worship. Even in a movement that by definition is beyond catagory, Crowder still doesn't fit into the box. His lyrics are fiercly poetic. They are potently odd and strikingly powerfull.

Most Christian praise song writers seem to compose songs by writing their favorite 52 Christian words down on cards (bless, name, fame, praise, heart, lamb) and shuffling the cards, then dealing out a new song. Crowder will have none of that. God's love is "indelible." He calls the Lord an "Antonym". "A certain sign of grace is this: from the broken earth, flowers come up, pushing through the dirt."

There's plenty of Radiohead influence here... partially musically, but perhaps more culturally. 3+4=7 (see 2+2=5), lots of (parenthetical) titles, and the occasional bizarre spoken word track. I like Crowder's "Conversation" better than "Fitter, Happier", though.

The progress on this album leaves some of their previous work far behind. This might be their Sgt. Pepper... I've felt that UK worship music has been ahead of their US counterparts since about, maybe Deliriou5's Cutting Edge. With this album, the US is back in the lead for the Ryder's cup of worship.


Jeremy said...

Oooohhh... Matt, way to make me real jealous that you got the tunes early. I know I can hear a tune or two from the new album off of iTunes... but I want the whole thing! Guess this is my lesson for the day in patience. Sounds like a great album, I will pick it up ASAP.

Also, any word on a new set of tunes from Harvest Songs? "The First Place" is my absolute favorite song of all time. Probably because it is great music, and Scripture! You can't get any better than that.

andrew jones said...

thanks - just linked to it

Matthew Westerholm said...


Thanks for the kind words. Watch the new website to launch Oct 16th,, for a 5 song EP and MORE TO COME. As far as "The First Place" goes, I haven't written a song in over a year-and-a-half (did you even know I wrote 1st place?). Pray with me, and see if the Lord might have more of that in the future.



Priveleged to have one of the true Christian internet greats visit.


bethany said...

great review - right on. I'm pretty fond of the Crowder album too (I reviewed it today on my blog). I think you are totally right about this being their Sgt Pepper.

aron said...

Did anyone notice that it made the #2 spot on iTunes??

That's pretty huge, I think.

(Thanks for this site, Matt!)


J&T said...

my first encounter with this blog...i am digging the review. A great and honest look. For me, this album is as much about the experience as it is about anything else. It is downright blissful - like a taste of heaven in the ear - while still maintaining the spiritual provocation that erupts from the Crowder Band's intimate relationship with God. heckasweet