Christian Music News & Reviews
Music Review: David Crowder Band, "Give Us Rest or (a requiem mass in c [the happiest of all keys])"
Record Label: Sparrow Records / sixstepsrecords
Album length: 34 tracks: 100 minutes, 29 seconds
Street Date: January 10, 2012
There’s never been another act like David Crowder Band, so it’s fitting that the band which pushed worship music to new, experimental heights has ended its career with such a captivating offering.
Give Us Rest (A Requiem Mass in the Key of C [The Happiest of All Keys]), the band’s seventh and final studio album, is the band’s crowning achievement in a career of exuberant, cerebral accomplishments. It’s ambitious: a concept album based on the Requiem funeral mass from liturgical traditions that asks the listener to stick around through 34 tracks and 100 minutes. The result is a fittingly genre-busting finale which provides more than enough inspiring moments to make it easily the band’s most impressive album.
The size and scope of the Requiem format allows the band to pull out all the stops for a genre-busting finale to its career. More space than this is needed to discuss the way Crowder and company manipulate the liturgical structure to fit their purposes. Thematically, Give Us Rest explores judgment and forgiveness, focusing heavily on man’s relationship with God. This is fitting, perhaps, since where better to consider the weight of eternity than in light of death? Taken in the context of the band’s career, the death of a band becomes a metaphor for human mortality. Or perhaps the other way around.
Sonically, the band tries its best to wrestle a massive amount of musical ideas into place, proving one more time it can do nearly anything it wants, from anthemic stadium rock to experimental modern rock, to folk, gospel, and, of course, bluegrass. How can one band contain so many sounds? There are classic Crowder worship anthems like “Oh Great Love of God”, and “After All (Holy).” But there are also new experiments, such as Sequence 1, the “Dies Irae” immortalized in Mozart’s Requiem, and Sequence 2, featuring a Latin choral vocal atop rock opera instrumentation. Even an acoustic track like the hollow, Johnny Cash-type ballad “Why Me?” takes Crowder exciting new places vocally.
Somehow in all this content, Give Us Rest achieves cohesion, opening with the sound of footsteps walking into a church service, a sound repeated near the album’s end as footsteps heading to a car, followed by an engine turning. Layering this sound beneath Crowder’s acoustic “Oh My God I’m Coming Home,” produces a powerful metaphor for heaven. The album ends with two classic hymns, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms/'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” and “Because He Lives,” bookended around a Crowder gospel original, “Jesus Lead Me to Your Healing Waters.” In the end, joy becomes the lasting note of this album, and perhaps the legacy of the career of this gone-too-soon band.