David Wallace Crowder was born on November 29, 1971. He was lead singer for David Crowder*Band. They released their debut independent CD POUR OVER ME in 1996. Over the years they became known for such songs as ‘Open Skies’, ‘Here is our King’, ‘Everything Glorious’, and ‘O Praise Him (All This for a King)’. Their two disc release GIVE US REST debuted at No 1 on the Billboard Christian chart and at No 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. The group won nine Dove Awards and had two Grammy nominations. In 2012 they disbanded. Most of the other members formed The Digital Age. David Crowder’s bio notes he “has been embraced for his lyrically powerful and musically elaborate and unpredictable songs that have found themselves being sung everywhere from churches to clubs all across the country”. Crowder’s latest solo album is NEON STEEPLE (sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records, 2014).
‘Neon Intro’ is a short, mellow track with conversational lyrics: “Well, I didn’t come here of my own accord/And I guarantee I can’t leave like this/Where you are I don’t care/But whoever brought me here/Is gonna have to take me home/Yeah, you’re gonna have to take me home”. ‘My Beloved’ was written by Crowder, Seth Philpott, and Ed Cash. It is an energetic track making use of banjo, cello, and violin. It is about a spiritual awakening: “My Beloved, bring me awake/Take me up to Your resurrection place/My Beloved, bring me awake/Cause I wanna feel Your light on my face.../My Beloved, take me away, over Jordan up out of this place/My Beloved for You I’ll wait/With You here ‘til forever face to face”.
On the adult contemporary song ‘I Am’ Crowder puts full confidence in his God: “I am holding on to You (2X)/In the middle of the storm/I am holding on, I am.../There’s no space that His love can’t reach/There’s no place where we can’t find peace/There’s no end to amazing grace”. ‘Come Alive’ is a dance song of testimony with Sally George on background vocals: “We have tasted and seen of the never ending grace of the King/Where the broken and the least of the least come alive.../Your love was the remedy/For the sickness in my heart/And now it’s the melody rising up in me/Rising up in me”.
‘Lift Your Head Weary Sinner (Chains)’ offers awesome advice: “All who’ve strayed and walked away/Unspeakable things you’ve done/Fix your eyes on the mountain/Let the past be dead and gone/Come all saints and sinners/You can’t outrun God/Whatever you’ve done you can’t overcome the power of the blood/If you’re lost and wanderin’/Come stumbling in like a prodigal child/See the walls start crumbling/Let the gates of glory be open wide”. ‘Come as You Are’ is a nice ballad of invitation: “There’s hope for the hopeless/And all those who’ve strayed/Come sit at the table/Come taste the grace/There’s rest for the weary/Rest that endures/Earth has no sorrow/That heaven can’t cure.../Come as you are (2X)/Fall in His arms/Come as you are”.
‘Hands of Love’ musically sounds like an upbeat Newsboys song but has Ron Block playing banjo. The song speaks of being secure in God: “In His hands that hung the sky/In His hands that touched the blind/In His hands He is holding me/In His hands that flung the stars/In His hands that bear the scars/In His hands He is holding me”. Phil Madeira plays slide and electric guitar on the Hank Williams Sr./Charles Monroe 1951 composition ‘Jesus is Calling’. This old country song offers hope: “If you’re lost in sin/There’s no need for you to stay/Jesus is calling, calling, calling night and day/If the night is dark/You will soon see the day/Jesus is calling, calling, calling night and day”.
‘My Sweet Lord’ is a quiet song of vulnerability with the legendary Emmylou Harris on backing vocals and Phil Madeira on B3. Here are some of the words: “My sweet Lord/Desperately I am alone and afraid to be/My love is gone so far away/I need my sweet Lord’s help today/Let Your love shine down on me and light the way to be/Oh and these are the words that I pray/I need my sweet Lord’s help today”. ‘This I Know’ includes fiddle, gang vocals, and claps. It also makes requests of God: “Take me up to where I was/When I never wanted more than You/Lift me up to feel Your touch/It wouldn’t be that much for You/This I know (4X)”.
‘Ain’t No Grave’ is a good sing-a-long song that finds Crowder determined: “Lord I’m crooked from head to toe/Got dirty hands and a dirty soul/I was lost but now I’m found/Ain’t no grave gonna hold me down/Ain’t no grave gonna hold me down”. ‘You Are’ confidently declares who God is: “You are constant in my wandering/You are brighter than the dark in me/You are the love that sets me free/You are faithful, You are faithful/You are/Ever waiting for the weary/Ever wanting them to see/There’s ransom, there’s forgiveness/Your hope is all around me/Though I’m prone to leave Your side/You draw me like the tide”.
‘Here’s My Heart’ finds Matt Gilder on piano, Cara Fox on cello, and Gabe Scott on background vocals. This testimonial was written by Chris Tomlin, Jason Ingram, and Louie Giglio: “You are strong, You are sure/You are life, You endure/You are good, always true/You are light breaking through/You are more than enough/You are here/You are love/You are hope/You are grace/You’re all I have/You’re everything”. ‘Steeple Outro’ is a fitting conclusion to the album: “I needed waking/I needed breaking/I needed You my Lord/And You took my hand/Led me to the river/And buried all I was/Then You kiss my face and told me I was Yours/And I knew I’d found my home”.
NEON STEEPLE is an eclectic musical stew combining elements of bluegrass, praise and worship, techno dance, and pop music. Crowder’s voice is still in top form. This is an album both teens and their parents will enjoy! I’m rating NEON STEEPLE 90% and recommending it to fans of Needtobreathe and Patty Griffin. I can’t wait for Crowder’s next album. For more info visit: www.crowdermusic.com.