January 10th, 2012 was a sad day in the Christian music world. On that day, one week after playing their last live show, the David Crowder*Band released the massive Give Us Rest, marking the end of the ultra-creative worship band after playing together for 16 years. Fans didn't know that to expect next; would the six members join other bands? Would they permanently retire? Would they reunite after a couple years? As it turned out, four of the members, Jack Parker, Mike Dodson ("Mike D"), Mark Waldrop and Jeremy Bush ("B-Wack") weren't quite ready to leave each other yet, and it wasn't long before they were back together making music under a new name, The Digital Age. Between the months of June and July 2012, this new band released to YouTube six covers/reinterpretations of songs in a gorgeous indie/experimental worship style, later releasing the audio of those videos in the form of the EP Rehearsals. Now signed to Fair Trade Records, the day that post-Crowder fans have craved has come; Evening:Morning, the first full-length album from The Digital Age, is here.
The album opens on a more-or-less unexpected note with the lead single "Captured." Unlike any of the Rehearsals songs, this song is poppier than pretty much anything the DC*B made. But as poppy as it is, it is so bright, deliciously joyful and irresistibly catchy (not dissimilar to Rend Collective Experiment) that I have no doubt it will win over even the biggest skeptics. "Symphony of Grace" follows the same vein as its predecessor, just as bright, joyful and poppy. "Your Name (We Shout)" is a song that I can see as potential for congregational worship with a simpler, more generic songwriting approach and song structure, but the foursome pulls it off with enough artistic flair (including a very Church Music-era DC*B outro) that it becomes a highlight. "Overcome" is also similar to its predecessor in style, even down to the extended ethereal outro. As the album moves on, more and more edge appears unlike anything the band had ever previously shown. While "Through the Night" sounds like it was pulled straight from Church Music with Mike D's vocals (along with Waldrop doing quite a bit as well) replacing Crowder's, "Glow" showcases the band's more indie and experimental leanings with numerous electronic elements to make it another highlight. "Believe" showcases as a gorgeously dark reflection on the Trinity, and the acoustic closer "Morning Song" serves as a perfect ending in contrast to the album's edgy, electronic leanings. And, of course, the lone inclusion from Rehearsals, "All The Poor and Powerless" (written by All Sons & Daughters), is yet another highlight in the midst of it all. Only one song, "Break Every Chain," felt overly like filler in the midst of eleven other gems of varying radiance.
Lyrically, there isn't anything truly remarkable or profound, but it is simply solid and perfectly calculated as to never get trite, boring, or less than sincere in any way. They don't usually follow the same generic songwriting patterns, and every word is focused around God. Of course, paired with a less skillfully crafted sound, one might come to view many of these lyrics as irreverent, which is a sincere testament to how good the music itself is. I've heard some people complain about The Digital Age's vocals, but I don't have any problem with them. Certainly going from Crowder's unique voice to Dodson and Waldrop's is a jump for Crowder fans with the mindset that The Digital Age is simply the DC*B minus DC*, but the fact is that they are quite simply another band entirely, only occasionally borrowing from their former collective's sound.
Without a doubt, this is an album that improves with each listen. Musically, it may not be on par with the crowning achievements of the DC*B, but I love how they are attempting to carve out their own niche in the industry separate from their former band's namesake rather than continue in the same musical vein. I'm sure many may have doubts concerning The Digital Age and their staying power in the wake of the DC*B's dissolution, but if this album does not put those fears to rest, I can't imagine anything that will.- Preview Review date: 7/5/13, written by Mark Rice of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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