MEETING THE CAST BEHIND THE CROWNS
Talk about striking while the iron is hot.
With two discs still simmering on Neilsen SoundScans sales charts, seven-member ensemble Casting Crowns now churns out its Lifesong Live CD/DVD project, a concert version of the bands sophomore studio release. The new endeavor, which releases October 3, represents the Crowns second performance-oriented CD/DVD set, following 2004s Live from Atlanta.
Not surprisingly, the Lifesong Live CD contains all the essential elements of a concert-style recording: audience applause, brief comments from lead singer Mark Hall and several expanded renditions of the bands hallmark anthems. Although only six songs are prominently featured, all the standouts made the cut, including Love Them Like Jesus, Praise You in This Storm and Stained Glass Masquerade. Interestingly, a seventh (bonus) track, Set Me Free, appears on the CD (but not the DVD). The song replaces its standard driving guitar riffs with well-executed piano and violin
instrumentation. Moreover, Halls gritty,
impassioned vocals take the song to a new level of soul-stirring intensity.
While, early on, the disc seems to promise a satisfying listening experience, it starts to drift and ultimately feels a bit too run-of-the-mill. Perhaps infusing more
conversation from Hall or additional musical improvisation would have helped capture the spirit of the performance.
Fortunately, redemption comes via the DVD, which yields a full-on view of the show. The set list mirrors the CDs, but its only here that we encounter Halls convicting, yet non-preachy, devotional challenges between songs.
Unlike the Live from Atlanta effort, this DVD is replete with enough behind-the-scenes footage and other special features to keep the most rabid Crowns fans
satiated for hours. Among the highlights are a well-produced, exclusive conceptual video of Does Anybody Hear Her, a virtual tour of the bands bus and a spotlight on tour pastor Tony Nolan, who shares an inspiring testimony with wit and candor.
Also memorable are Halls accounts of how the groups tight-knit dynamic plays out in daily life. Revealing glimpses show the band spending time together in prayer and devotions, goofing off during sound checks and detailing how each member remains engaged in local church ministry. It all serves as evidence to Casting Crowns unwavering commitment to serve each other and the body of Christ.
DAVID McCREARY CCMMagazine.com