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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
The Altar and the Door
Artist: Casting Crowns
Label: Reunion Records
In the CCM world, it's fairly rare that a group is allowed to have talent triumph over appearance. The usual plan is that a marginal but good looking talent becomes amazingly successful. (How this differs from the mainstream pop world? I have no clue.) Consider Casting Crowns, then: seven average looking church workers who mesh the sounds of Jeremy Camp, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Mercy Me, while adding female harmonies. Oh, and quite possibly a lot more depth to their lyrics.
"What the World Needs" is a rocker than adult contemporary fans may not expect from this group. "Every Man" is rife with harmonies, and "Slow Fade" opens with a big rock intro, then proceeds to do exactly what its title says. "Families never crumble in a day" is the line that cuts to the heart, reminding us that relationships are never built or lost in one day, but lost in a series of small events that makes us wonder how we got to this place.
"Somewhere in the Middle" draws the difference between our wants and God's wishes. "East to West" and "All Because of Jesus" are the two hits everyone has heard over the last few months. While neither stand up to their "Praise You in This Storm" from Lifesong, both will draw much acclaim in their own right.
Casting Crowns is a group that is very easy to root for, as they seem to have maintained their sense of awe, and generally come across as if they realize their job is a gift, rather than something to be taken lightly. For that alone, they've earned a chance from me. For their music, they will get several more.
Brian A. Smith