Casting Crowns released their self-titled debut for Beach Street Records in 2003. It produced three #1 singles: 'If We are the Body', 'Who Am I', and 'Voice of Truth'. In 2005 the group released their follow-up project LIFESONG (Beach Street/Reunion Records). Group members were: Hector Cervantes, Juan and Melodee DeVevo, Megan Garrett, Mark Hall, Chris Huffman, and Andy Williams. The album peaked at #1 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart, won a Grammy for 'Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album', and won a Dove for 'Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year'.
1. Starting things off is the title track 'Lifesong', which is one of six songs on the album penned solely by lead vocalist Mark Hall. It was the album's first single and first #1 hit. It's an upbeat modern worship track: "May the words I say/And the things I do/Make my lifesong sing/Bring a smile to You/Let me lifesong sing to You (2X)/I want to sign Your Name to the end of this day/Knowing that my heart was true/Let my lifesong sing to You".
2. 'Praise You in This Storm' was the album's second single and #1 song. It is one of three compositions on the album penned by Mark Hall and Bernie Herms. It won a Dove for 'Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year'. It speaks of spiritual determination: "As the thunder rolls/I barely hear You whisper through the rain/'I'm with you'/And as Your mercy falls/I raise my hands and praise the God who gives/And takes away/And I'll praise You in this storm/And I will lift my hands/For You are who You are/No matter where I am/Every tear I've cried/You hold in Your hand/You never left my side/And though my heart is torn/I will praise You in this storm".
3. 'Does Anybody Hear Her' was the album's third single and #1 hit. It's a moving adult contemporary story song: "She is yearning for shelter and affection/That she never found at home/She is searching/For a hero to ride in/To ride in and save the day/And in walks her prince charming/And he knows just what to say/Momentary lapse of reason/And she gives herself away/If judgment looms under every steeple/If lofty glances from lofty people/Can't see past her scarlet letter/And we never even met her".
4. 'Stained Glass Masquerade' was written by Mark Hall and Nichole Nordeman. It's a great rock song that begins with these pointed lyrics: "Is there anyone that fails?/Is there anyone that falls?/Am I the only one in church today feelin' so small?/'Cause when I take a look around/Everybody seems so strong/I know they'll soon discover/That I don't belong/So I tuck it all away, like everything's okay/If I make them all believe it, maybe I'll believe it too/So with a painted grin, I play the part again/So everyone will see me the way that I see them/Are we happy plastic people under shiny plastic steeples/With walls around our weakness and smiles to hide our pain?"
5. 'Love Them Like Jesus' speaks of compassion: "Lord of creation holds our lives in His hands/The God of all the nations holds our lives in His hands/The Rock of our salvation holds our lives in His hands/He cares for them just as He cares for you/So love them like Jesus, love them like Jesus/You don't need the answers to all of life's questions/Just know that He loves them and stay by their side/Love them like Jesus (2X)".
6. 'Set Me Free' is a rock number about a man Jesus cast demons out of in Matthew 5: "Morning breaks another day/Finds me crying in the rain/All alone with my demons I am/Who is this man that comes my way?/The dark ones shriek/They scream His Name/Is this the One they say will set the captives free?/Jesus, rescue me/As the God man passes by/He looks straight through my eyes/And darkness cannot hide/Do you want to be free?/Lift your chains/I hold the key/All power on Heav'n and Earth belong to Me/You are free! (3X)."
7. 'While You Were Sleeping' is very thought provoking: "United States of America/Looks like another silent night/As we're sung to sleep by philosophies/That save the trees and kill the children/And while we're lying in the dark/There's a shout heard 'cross the eastern sky/For the Bridegroom has returned/And has carried His bride away in the night/America, what will we miss while we are sleeping?/Will Jesus come again and leave us slumbering where we lay?/America, will we go down in history/As a nation with no room for its King?/Will we be sleeping? (2X)".
8. Mark Hall, Chad Cates, and David Hunt wrote 'Father, Spirit, Jesus'. It's an energetic praise and worship number: "Rescued from darkness/We are walking in marvelous light/For we are children of the King!/SING/You are worthy of all honor/Glory, praise, and power/King of the nations/You are holy God Almighty/Clothed in brilliant majesty/Father, Spirit, Jesus".
9. 'In Me' is an adult contemporary song about obedience to God: "If You ask me to leap out of my boat on the crashing waves/If You ask me to go preach to a lost world that Jesus saves/I'll go, but I cannot go alone/'Cause I know I'm nothing on my own/But the power of Christ in me makes me strong/Makes me strong.../To reach out with Your hands/To learn through Your eyes/To love with the love of a Savior/To feel with Your heart/And to think with Your mind/I'd give my last breath for Your glory".
10. 'Prodigal' is the longest song at 5:41. It is a touching easy listening story song: "Daddy, here I am again/Will You take me back tonight?/I went and made the world my friend, and it left me high and dry/I drag Your Name back through the mud that You first found me in/Not worthy to be called Your Son/Is this to be my end?/Daddy, here I am/Here I am again".
11. Closing things out is 'And Now My Lifesong Sings', a tender song of testimony: "I once was lost, but now I'm found (2X)/So far away, but I'm home now/I once was lost, but now I'm found/And now my lifesong sings/I once was blind, but now I see (2X)/I don't know how, but when He touched me/I once was blind but now I see/And now my lifesong sings (3X)".
LIFESONG was produced by Mark A. Miller and executive produced by Terry Hemmings. Musically, there is a mix of pop, rock, adult contemporary, and modern praise and worship found on this record. A main theme is making the church a place where we are sensitive to the needs of others and where we are non-judgmental of those who come. We are to love others. And we are to be ourselves in church, not wearing masks. Easier said than done. Another theme is wanting to live for God and praising Him even in the stormy seasons of life. We need Christ's power in us to accomplish things on this earth. I am rating LIFESONG 95%. For more info visit: www.castingcrowns.com or look them up on facebook.