A note of disclosure: I am a big fan of David Crowder’s work. My wife and I once took a couple of college students and drove two and half hours from northern Jersey into the wilderness of Long Island to attend one of his concerts. Like many others, I was thoroughly impressed with their last release A Collision — for its epic scope, indie rock ramblings (and extra long titles!) and for the circumstances under which the album was released (the album as a response to death, just as the band lost their close friend and pastor Kyle Lake).
The highly anticipated follow-up to A Collision (if we skip over B Collision, the ’06 EP of B-sides and other miscellany), Remedy, was released on September 25th. Though I understand the sentiment behind CCM Patrol’s review of Remedy — and I definitely appreciate their honesty (and, often, bluntness) in reviewing much of the music that is released in the Christian market — I was certainly not disappointed with this album.
Reviews are highly subjective. In fact, part of the fun of reading reviews is vehemently disagreeing with them (and later grumbling about what a bunch of cultural Philistines those reviewers are). As Marko wrote in his review of Remedy, when I listen to this album, I picture myself singing this in company of those who love the King (to borrow a Crowder phrase). One of my most powerful times of worship in the context of singing along with other people happened several years back at one of the Thirsty conferences. DC*B was leading their version of Thank You for Hearing Me, and right at the moment in which the distorted guitar kicks in (if you’ve heard the song, you’ll know what I’m talking about), thousands of earnest worshipers lifted their hands in unison. So, you will not read an impartial, detached, “pure” review of the album from me — it is virtually impossible for me to separate the experience of listening to the album from the experience of being there.
One interesting phenomenon surrounding DC*B is their popularity among Asian American youth — Korean American kids, in particular. As Andrew Beaujon writes in his book Body Piercing Saved My Life (which I also recommend), “…for some reason its members don’t fully understand, the David Crowder Band is huge among Korean Americans. They were due to play a large Korean church in New York City a few nights later and had recently played for a mostly Korean crowd of eleven thousand in Los Angeles.”
I actually had a short email correspondence with Crowder, which included a brief discussion of their popularity with Asian American kids. DC*B puts on a high energy show with lots of goofy fun. I was at their concert in LA that Body Piercing mentions, and one of the highlights of the evening was when Crowder broke out his shiny red keytar and challenged the crowd to make a louder noise than the Neil Diamond concert in town. You have to love a worship leader than gets all up in Neil Diamond’s grill. In all seriousness, though, I believe it is precisely this goofiness, freedom and spontaneity that appeals to Asian American youth. At home, for so many Asian American teens, their value is in direct proportion to their performance. There is very little room to make mistakes — after all, Johnny Kim down the street plays first-chair violin, is president of his youth group, and won a governor’s award for academic excellence — and he does everything his mother tells him to do, and he’s waltzing into Harvard a year early… on a full scholarship, no doubt.
So, when Crowder urges these kids to whistle along and get a little undignified as they connect with our God who loves them just as they are, something deep within them responds. Remedy therefore is an appropriate metaphor for our community as well — despite the veneer of perfection and achievement, we are an awful mess on the inside. For too many of us, the internal pressure builds up until it explodes in rage, binge drinking, or worse. What a sight it is when captives are genuinely freed in the presence of the King!
Remedy is definitely simpler in approach than A Collision — no rock operas or postmodern parenthetical asides on this album. However, Crowder continues to write simple lyrics that are deceptive in their depth. Take this beautiful line from their reworking of O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, “There are so few words that never grow old… Jesus.” Or these words, from the title track:
Oh, I can’t comprehend / I can’t take it all in
Never understand / Such perfect love come
For the broken and beat / For the wounded and weak
Oh, come fall at His feet / He’s the remedy
Plus, how can you deny a worship album that features a track with the Nuge himself melting faces with his song-length solo in the background?