Prime Cuts: Oh My Soul, God of All My Days, Loving My Jesus
Avid fans will remember that Casting Crowns started as a student worship band in Daytona Beach, Florida in 1999. Over the years since they have had been signed to Beach Records (co-owned by Sawyer Brown's Mark A. Miller), the team have carved out a niche for themselves in CCM rock. Lead singer Mark Hall's resplendent tenor which has both volume and resilience helped the band to put their identity on stalwart CCM favorites such as "Voice of Truth," "East to West," "Who Am I," and "Glorious Day." However, over the years, Casting Crowns have mellowed a tad. Progressively moving away from their roaring guitar-driven rock, they have slowly morphed back to their student days where their songs are more worship-focused and more intimate. "The Very Next Thing," despite its titular, is another step towards such a direction where the 12 new songs find more in affinity with Hillsong UNITED than say, Kutless.
"Hallelujah," the album's opening track, is the album's only dud. Borrowing too much from the current CCM worship's tropes, "Hallelujah" is overwhelmed by recycled riffs that you can find from countless worship bands out there. The album does get better and better as we get deeper into it. Title cut "The Very Next Thing" houses a glorious Steven Curtis Chapman-esque chorus structured around verses and lots of infectious "oohh." "One Step Away," the album's vanguard single, has the word hit written all it. Adorned with a sunny disposition enhanced by crisp sounding drums, "One Step Away" is a celebrative call to all of us to take a step of faith back to God's grace.
We are introduced to the first ballad on the set with "Oh My Soul." If you love Casting Crowns' sturdy ballads with those heaven reaching choruses, "Oh My Soul" continues in the same lofty tradition. A tad less bombastic and lots more intimate is the 5-star piano based "God of All My Days." Calling to mind (at least lyrically) Matt Redman's "10,000 Reasons," "God of All My Days" is one of those gorgeous worship songs that pleads faithfulness to God despite our circumstances. Worship would have so much richer if we have more of these songs. The same can be said about the country leaning "Loving My Jesus."
More worship moments abound with "For All You Are" and the Hillsong Worship cover, "No Other Name." Exploring more of their rustic side is the danceable Rend Collective-influenced "Song the Angels Can't Sing" and the rootsy "Make Me a River." Despite the title "The Very Next Thing," this new record doesn't really find the band abandoning their own sound. Rather, building on their CCM pop/rock template, they have gone deeper into heart-felt worship.
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