Reviewed by Tony Cummings
It took a while for the penny to drop, even with Cross Rhythms perceptive reviewers, to grasp the huge significance of the Casting Crowns debut. Maybe it was because there was nothing innovative or sexy about a group of Atlanta youth workers performing generic pop rock. But, as it turned out, 'Casting Crowns' was a stone classic that deserved every one of its million sales. What makes the album so special is the depth and passion of frontman Mark Hall's songs. Here is a man who sings of issues with the authority of a prophet and the perception of a poet. The failings of the contemporary Church are laid bare in the haunting "We Are The Body", the way fathers caught up in the career rat race can neglect their kids is exposed in "American Dream" while our failure to witness to our friends is gently and poignantly exposed in "Here I Go Again". With crisp production from Steven Curtis Chapman and Mark Miller, this is an album which will feed life and vitality into the Church for years to come. Now it's been released in the new dual disc format - CD on one side, DVD on the other. In truth, the visuals on offer are disappointingly sparse. I was expecting a full in-concert video of all or most of the songs on the album. In fact, what you get is the short form vid of "American Dream" - rather effective with some telling images of a businessman futilely trying to make a sandcastle as the tide rushes in, an in-concert video of "Here I Go Again" and some interview footage made fragmentary due to high speed editing. But this is still an essential purchase because the Surround Sound version of the album on the DVD brings home, in a stunning audio experience, the sheer power of Casting Crown's milestone debut. If you get one pop rock album this year and you're prepared to receive ministry as well as be entertained, may I suggest you investigate this one.
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