Release Date: June 5th 2012
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
What happens when the David Crowder*Band disband? Well, two new acts are formed, of course! David Crowder started up his new venture, simply titled ‘Crowder’, and is going to debut this collective with new songs at Creation East Festival this year! As for Mike D, B-Wack, Mark Waldrop and Jack Parker; they have formed their own experimental electro pop worship group The Digital Age and their EP Rehearsals just released last week. With Mike D taking over the main vocals, with Jack and Mark on backing vocals; I am simply blown away! It seems as if musically these guys are at their peak more than ever before, given the fresh new lease of life at the front of the mic. In my opinion, it’s a no brainer that these guys will definitely be signed sometime soon… And it’s always a good thing when I hear some familiar hymns and reworked DC*B tunes, making me smile, and excited for The Digital Age‘s future.
First up is the one-word spontaneous like vertical worship moment entitled “Hallelujah”, a surreal experience that has me tingling from head to toe! With quite of musical experimentation and styles in this absorbing track alone, inclusive of guitar riffs, an out of this world crescendo and a frenetic eclectic electric guitar solo; Mike D and pals Jack and Mark sing explosively and passionately into the mic and keep the energetic nature going yet never once forsaking the worshipfulness and total abandonment to God that their predecessor Crowder embodied and possessed. What a welcome first track that serves as a nice entree before the main course.
2nd is the hymn “How Great Thou Art”, which is redone, and beefed up to a more rockier tune. I actually liked this version best of all, more so than others such as Paul Baloche! Containing heaps of grunging guitars and the presence of a glockenspiel for diversity, as well as other musical elements not known to be common on a worship album; Mike D’s vocals are never more compelling than this, as he proclaims ‘…my God, how great thou art…’; declaring to all how great God is, and how we should respond to that greatness; to which I say Amen! In my opinion, The Digital Age have served their purpose well on this track by dishing up a rendition worthy of inclusion on a possible WOW Hymns album, and it’s only a matter of time before this powerful song is released to the radio airwaves!
“After All (Holy)” is next, a radio single originally recorded by DC*B, and on their final album Give Us Rest. In this similar yet strikingly different version, Mike D carries where David Crowder left off, with their musical signature sound never quite going away! It’s great to see a David Crowder song in another light, and Mike D showing a passion in the song, and the rehearsal video also was a sight to listen to and behold; given that such a passion was subtle when he was part of the DC*B! Nevertheless, a breathtaking musical moment is made, through the poetic imagery found in the lyrics, and the bountiful musical experimentation (that works!) found in layers in this song! With Mike D, Jack, Mark and B-wack celebrating in their high energy way that Jesus is holy, and we can never do enough for Him to loves us more or less ‘… Hosanna we are found after all you are holy…’, I am now 100% sold on The Digital Age‘s style of worship! This version is completely refreshing, and better than the original recording!
The next song on the EP “All The Poor and Powerless”, is my absolute favourite song of late. Recently recorded for the All Sons and Daughters debut album, with David Leonard and Leslie Jordan writing the worship moment; this cover stays true to the original…mostly. Things are changed up a bit when Mike D and Mark insert their own upbeat flavour of worship, ala a bit of screamo, in the bridge as they sing ‘…shout it, go on and scream it from the mountains, go on and tell it to the masses that He is God…’, and this is a welcome take on what I consider an anthem that will be timeless! The Digital Age have showed me that worship can be messy, loud, and can cause a ruckus! And why not, as we are celebrating the reign of the One True God! The passionate vocals of Mike and Mark throughout, as well as the guitar solos in the middle, then the quiet sombre soft vocals at the end, all combine to give a fantastic rendition of a song that touches my heart countless times!
If I were part of The Digital Age, I could have stopped the EP right there, as the All Sons and Daughters covered song is the perfect closer, and simply a God inspired Holy Spirit moment. However it is nice to hear the band delve into some unknown territory in terms of two country type songs before the actual close. The David Crowder*Band written medley “Oh My God/I Am a Seed” is the first ‘country type’ song. Starting off with a guitar riff and a captivating drum beat, Mike D starts off proceedings, by proclaiming ‘…King of glory oh my Jesus Christ, free me from what keeps me from your life, I can feel this heart beating inside, I don’t know when I felt more alive…’ then the worship song goes into the spontaneous realm a bit, complete with a sublime banjo solo that lifts me off my feet and encourages me to worship Jesus! At the halfway point in the song, “I Am a Seed” begins, a southern country type song which describes us as a seed, and reminds me of the parable of the sower (Matthew 13: 1-23). As a new Christian, one can grow up to be a ‘tree’, with God’s help, through His Word, which is representative of the good soil in the parable. With such an encouraging message that Jesus ‘…won’t turn Your back on me…’, this moving and energetic track with many different musical styles has me surprisingly dancing away! Well done Mike D, Jack, Mark, and B-Wack, you’ve all given me a new appreciation for country music!
The album closer is “Never Grow Old”, a sombre and down to earth hymn, where the vocals are shared through all three verses (One by Mike D, one by Marl, and one by Jack). Lyrically, this song inspires us to look beyond our circumstances, and fix our gaze to Heaven, as it will be a place where we will see Jesus ‘…’tis a land where we’ll never grow old…’, where all tears will be wiped away and our sicknesses and afflictions gone! This reassuring track, is quite simple musically and melodically and is a great song to finish with.
If you thought ‘Give Us Rest’ would be the end of hearing the DC*B music, the Digital Age carries on musically and fills the void of the 10 year Waco Texan band; while also providing an adequate enough album to potentially carry on the DC*B legacy! While there is not an original track on this sneak peek of an EP, only covers and hymns; it is clear that their full album later this year will definitely be something to savour! Is it too much to hope that David Crowder guest vocals on a couple of tracks for The Digital Age?
- How Great Thou Art
- After All (Holy)
- All The Poor and Powerless
- Oh My God/I Am a Seed
- Never Grow Old