Prime Cuts: Red Letters, Let It Rain (Featuring Mandisa), Ghost
Overall Grade: 3/5
Crowder continues the genre-bending direction with "I Know a Ghost." This record is a melting pot of an array of diverse sounds from nu-folk, rock, African native chants, country, EDM, bluegrass and pop. If you want a mental picture of what this album sounds like: think Rend Collective meeting Stryper meeting Chris Tomlin. And if you like your worship music on the experimental side, this album is an oasis deep enough (with 16 whooping cuts) to drench your thirst in. But if you are not that adventurous, the music of Crowder is an acquired taste. But a bigger issue is this: do these songs translate into worship songs for the church? With the exception of a few tracks, most of these songs lack a congregational focus with a distinct singalong melody for the collective church as a whole to grasp.
The best cuts are highlighted in our prime cut picks. "Ghost" may the most familiar song off the set as it first appeared earlier this year on Passion's collective worship set. "Ghost" is an ode to the power of the Holy Spirit with out mincing an iota of the Spirit's miraculous power. A strong contender for next year's Easter time is current single "Red Letters." Though there are many songs that speak of Christ's salvific work, the way Crowder crafts his has a compelling autobiographic ring that is mesmerising. "Let It Rain" has a 70s-soul feel updated with a current R&B soul thanks to Mandisa.
For an album that defies convention and cliches, "I'm Leaning on You" is the most mainstream; it's not bad but it's also the least adventurous track on the record. "No Rival" has reverberations of native African chants with the call and response from crowder and a choir of male voices. One not to be missed is "Golgotha Hill" which is a graphic depiction of Jesus being whipped and tortured on the way to the cross. Listen carefully to the words and it will give you goosebumps all over. On left field is "Sinner's Cure" - the song runs the gamut from piano balladry to heavy rock to EDM. Not sure if it's a song that will go on repeat, but you certainly can't fault Crowder for being unoriginal.
Fans of Rend Collective who like "campfire" sing alongs will swoon at "Night Like This." "La Luz" which features Social Club Misfits, cruises around the same sonic path except that it's much heavier in percussion and way louder. Crowder on this and a few other tracks does teether on the shouting side which can be off-putting. In short, top marks go to Crowder for colouring outside the lines. But if you are looking for a worship album to listen to again and again with tunes made for the church, not sure this is the one.