Prime Cuts: One More Song for You, In the Hands of the Potter, Only Jesus
Overall Grade: 5/5
"I got lost in the lie that it was up to me/To make a name the world remembers/But Jesus is the only name to remember." These words from Casting Crowns' most acerbic title cut and single "Only Jesus" has a prophetic ring to it. Far too many churches thrive on the teaching that we are called to chase our dreams. And too often such an ego-centric mantra means to use Jesus as a means to get more recognition and prosperity for ourselves. Casting Crowns, in what is one of the most significant songs released this year, sets such a spiritually devious teaching alright. In many respects, Only Jesus is more than just a good album, it's an indispensable record as far as bringing the church back on its railings is concerned.
Seriously, this album is penetrating because it takes a hard and honest look at how we do church in the western world. Case in point being "Start Right here," a searing critique of the church that doesn't mince its words: We want our coffee in the lobby/We watch our worship on a screenWe got a Rockstar preacher. Melodically, the song "Nobody," which features a co-write and a guest vocal spot by Matthew West, is top-notched material. The song's winsome point lies in its well-crafted hook-laden pop melody. Fans who can't get enough of Mark Hill's full blown outburst of passion will love the thumbing "Even When You're Running."
The cynosure of this record is in the band's power ballads. And on this album, they come in spades. "Hands of the Potter" is truly a prime cut. Flourished by a superior melody, this worship piece is Hill's heartfelt cry for God "to flood this desert heart." Framed in the context of a personal narrative, "Love Moved First" details the sovereignty and the pursue of God in ways that are visceral as well as profound. The Tim-McGraw-esque"One Awkward Moment" is a powerful testimonial to how the Gospel changes the life of a woman. Simple yet moving is the piano-led "One More Song for You". - an intimate prayer of love and adoration to God.
Within the prodigious canon of Casting Crown, Only Jesus is an important album. First, while many bands of their iconic stature, would be eager to advance their influence beyond the CCM fold, Casting crowns would rather sing about Jesus and what's valuable to him. Second, this isn't the run in your mill album, there's an inherent honesty and passion to declutter the church of its frills and be nourished again by Jesus that is the record's golden thread. In these two regards, this is more than a good album, it's mere essential.