In A Collision, the David Crowder*Band's third major studio album, Crowder compares art to a lark which "rises on wing from earth to fill the heavens pulling the rest of us with it... as the lark rises so do we." It is no accident that the David Crowder*Band's sixth and final major studio album released Tuesday, Give Us Rest (or a requiem mass in c [the happiest of all keys]), also features a bird on the cover. The band's 100-minute magnum opus is a soaring achievement, a challenging musical journey that takes its listeners from the bowels of judgment to the heights of paradise.
While those who know the David Crowder*Band from their worship hits such as "O Praise Him" and "How He Loves" may be taken aback by the scale of this new project, loyal fans shouldn't be surprised. Creative genre-blending is what the band does best: In previous albums, Crowder experimented with incorporating diverse styles such as bluegrass and disco into a Christian rock album.
But with Give Us Rest, Crowder displays how he has perfected his craft. The album is a mature work of passion, sincerity, and precision. Every song has a part to play in the grand drama of the album, and every musical style ranging from the quiet piano interludes to heavy metal is employed intentionally.
Based on the requiem liturgy, the album is broken up into seven parts. The first four parts fit on disk one and focus on repentance and judgment. In "God Have Mercy," Crowder reflects "Oh, my God what have I done?" The music then transports the listener to an even deeper place of despair, as Crowder sings in anguish: "If I could feel you shine your perpetual light, then maybe I could crawl out of this tonight." A peal of thunder commences the Sequence - a series of seven songs depicting the chaos and horror of judgment day. Heavy guitars accompanied by piano and choir evoke chaos and terror as Crowder sings "Day of wrath, Oh day of mourning, See the ashes, cities burning...Spare us, Oh God!"
The second disk shifts the tone from judgment to its thematic conclusion of consummation and paradise, indicated by the introduction of bluegrass. The disk opens with a hopeful piano reprise of the album's main theme "Give Us Rest," then the band breaks out the banjos and fiddles for two energetic bluegrass songs. Multiple songs paint powerful pictures of God's glory, and concludes with the message: In the light of this hope, this vision of God's glory and the promise of eternal life for the saints, what have we to fear? "Don't be afraid, just set your sail and risk the ocean - there's only grace."
Musically this is the band's best work- the anthems are triumphant, the ballads are raw, and the bluegrass is a pure foot-stomping pleasure.
Crowder's brilliant synthesis of rock, classical, and bluegrass gives the album a sense of depth and scope. Give Us Rest is also a jaw-dropper by sheer fact of its length - 34 songs on 2 disks. Still, Crowder's final work is a humble one: The listener walks away not thinking about the band, but reminded that the "dreams of majesty as brilliant as a billion stars" are merely shadows of the real thing. Give Us Rest confronts its listeners with a vision terrifying and beautiful, and invites them to sing along.