Casting Crowns Acoustic Sessions Vol.1
Casting Crowns’ latest offering is an acoustic album, featuring a mixture of well-known and overlooked songs. Almost anything from them is good news IMHO, despite what some have said. The album is auspiciously labeled “Vol. 1” and includes 10 tracks. First is the convicting “If We Are The Body”, which exposes the judging, unwelcoming spirit present in many churches. Mark Hall’s vocals blend and flow with the piano music. Next is the soul cry of “East To West”. It sounds little different from the original, but is always a favorite of mine. “American Dream” (it applies to Canadians too!) is a cautionary tale about priorities that’s just as fresh today as it was when they first put it out. It almost has a bluegrass feel to it this time around.
Another favorite of mine is the perspective-realigning “Who Am I”. Unlike the original, Megan Garrett takes the mike instead of Mark. (Try saying that 10 times fast.) There’s also more violin to it, which gives it a softer sound. The prayerful “Here I Go Again” laments the singer’s persistent failures at sharing the Gospel. The song has been slowed down a bit, but the urgency and frustration still comes through. As usual, it touches a chord with me, who finds it easier to address an anonymous Internet with lyrics and prose than individuals. The ladies take the lead on “Delivered”, which is based on a psalm, although I don’t know which one. The joyful, Celtic-sounding song thanks God for deliverance so they can walk with Him.
Haven’t we all been “Somewhere In The Middle”, between polar opposites, at one time or another? You can almost feel the tug of war tension, and the song ends with high piano notes instead of back and forth violin. “Set Me Free”, which was a rocking song originally, starts off like a sunrise soundtrack and has an almost dreamy ballad quality. Based on the story of the demon possessed man Jesus delivered, it’s the plea of everyone who’s enslaved by sin. The rhythmic “Only You Can Satisfy” expresses the restlessness we feel without God and our longing for Him. Finally, the album ends off with “Praise You In This Storm”. A triumphant anthem for anyone who’s going through a difficult trial, it’s the perfect last track.
Diehard fans of Casting Crowns will want to check out this disc. Those who don’t care for the band and think every song sounds exactly the same may be surprised by it. I give this one a 4.5 out of 5.