casting crowns acoustic sessions volume 1. It may just be a ‘greatest hits’ with quieter guitar than usual, but it is still a strong collection.

Label: Provident
Time: 10 Tracks / 47 minutes

Because Casting Crowns are not particularly rocky and because Mark Hall’s distinctive, smoky vocals are such a large part of the band’s sound, going acoustic doesn’t feel much different from usual.

But the songs here are memorable, worthwhile offerings. “If We are the Body” challenges Christians to get involved in the world as Jesus did; “East to West” sings of the sacrifice that Christ made for us; “American Dream” nicely debunks that eponymous myth; and “Somewhere in the Middle” is a poetic take on life in what Delirious? so concisely called the ‘Mezzamorphis’:

“Somewhere between my faith and my plans
Somewhere between the safety of the boat and the crashing waves
Somewhere between a whisper and a roar
Somewhere between the altar and the door…
Somewhere in the middle you’ll find me.

Just how close can I get Lord to my surrender without losing all control
Fearless warriors in a picket fence; reckless abandon wrapped in common sense…
We are caught in the middle, with eyes open to the differences
The God we want and the God who is
But will we trade our dreams for his or are we caught in the middle?”

All these are memorable, hummable and truth-filled songs, but there are weak spots. “Delivered” adds variety in that (presumably) Melodee Devevo sings and a little mandolin takes the stage, but the psalm-like words are not a natural fit for the tune. Standing further back, these sessions do not make as much of the acoustic theme as they might. There is still room for more contrast and more organic instrumentation.

One of the band’s selling points has always been that they are still youth leaders and these lyrics reveal both a nurturing – if somewhat earnest – heart and a scriptural pair of feet.

There’s no questioning the quality of the songs: this is a ‘Greatest Hits’ by another name. For newcomers, this is a great start, but devotees will find that they have already had this before in several different forms.

4tocksfor newcomers
3tocks for fans

Derek Walker
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