Atlanta-based group Casting Crowns, consisting of Mark Hall, Juan Devevo, Melodee Devevo, Hector Cervantes, Andy Williams, Christ Huffman, and Megan Garrett, is a relatively new band in the Christian music industry, and the largest in personnel size since Caedmon's Call. As the first act to sign with Beach Street Records, Casting Crowns released their debut self-titled album on September 30, 2003 to a sea of unassuming faces. The heart of the band, Mark Hall, is an astonishing character that has a testimony like no other. When listening to music, the listener can go beyond the sound and also take into account the meaning of the lyrics, the vision of the band, etc. Casting Crowns goes past the level of other contemporary rock bands because of their blunt and serious lyrics, but they can also face some criticism said about their work.
Casting Crowns' first live project, Live from Atlanta, was recorded on October 5, 2003 at the band's home church while commemorating the release of the debut self-titled album. The 2-disc CD/DVD consists of five audio songs performed live from their debut record and also a song not previously heard of, a six-song DVD, and behind-the-scenes interviews.
The six-song audio CD begins live with the group's number one hit "If We Are the Body". Of course, live music always sounds unlike that of the recorded version, but Casting Crowns seems to hold onto the song and leads amazing worship, much like a lot of other bands in their genre. About three minutes into the song Mark Hall has the crowd sing along, which adds a slight change. The CD continues with "Who Am I" and "Voice of Truth", two much slower, piano-based songs. "Voice of Truth" is one of Casting Crown's songs that sounds appreciably different live. Later you find "Here I Go Again" and "American Dream". If not musically inclined as some people put it, these two songs consist of strong and personable lyrics that are worthy of mention. Lyrics like, "I'll take a shack on a rock over a castle in the sand" prove this. The audio portion of the project ends with "Beautiful Savior" which was previously unreleased. It is, alike the other songs, a slower worshipful melody with a catchy tune. Personally, my appreciation for Casting Crowns has grown after witnessing them live.
Although they sound like many other Christian worship bands out there, I would still highly suggest this album to fans of Steven Curtis Chapman, Big Daddy Weave, Warren Barfield, Daily Planet, MercyMe, FFH, Caedmon's Call, or modern worship in general. Look past the fact that their sound isn't exactly the most original and focus on the lyrics, heart, and ministry of Casting Crowns.- Review date: 9/27/04, written by Jessica Vander Loop
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