Monday, September 26, 2016

Music Review: The Very Next Thing by Casting Crowns

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Lots of fun, encouraging tracks
Cons: The worship service oriented tracks are just okay
The Bottom Line:
Casting Crown’s next thing
Is one their fans will enjoy
Uplifting and fun

Make The Very Next Thing You Listen to Casting Crown’s New CD

Like many, I’ve been a Casting Crowns fan since their first CD came out.  While I do think they have a couple of weak releases, the majority always minister to me.  Their latest release is The Very Next Thing.  While it isn’t one of their best, there are still some great songs on it.

If you are expecting the disc to start out with a fast upbeat song (like most discs do), you’ll be surprised by “Hallelujah.”  It’s a slower anthem.  But give it a listen or two, and you’ll love it.  It’s a song that celebrates three sun rises – creation, Resurrection Sunday, and the morning of the second coming.  By the time you get to the chorus, which is just hallelujahs, you’ll see it really does work as a disc opener.  Someone, the melody perfectly captures that idea of sunrises and new beginnings.  I can’t picture this song anywhere else on the disc.

The title track comes next.  “The Very Next Thing” is about finding what God wants you to be doing with where you are now, not when you hits your goals further down the road.  It’s a wonderful mid-tempo track that will challenge you.  This idea is echoed in “What If I Gave Everything,” about the struggle between our dreams of following God and our comfort with the life we currently have.

Over the years, Casting Crowns has offered some amazing songs of encouragement, and “One Step Away” continues that great tradition.  It’s a reminder that all we need to do is turn to God, and He will be there to welcome us back.  It was reminding me a bit of Matthew West’s songs (which is a good thing), and there’s a reason for that – he helped Casting Crowns front man Mark Hall write it.  It’s a fun upbeat song that will have you smiling as you listen to it.

“Oh My Soul” grew out of Mark Hall’s recent diagnosis of cancer.  It’s a song written from the valley as he sings of the struggles of the times of trial and doubt.  Yes, it does remind us that “there’s a place where fear has to face the God you know.”  But this anthem is still a wonderful song for those times of trial because it is so honest about the struggle.

I must admit it took me a time or two to fully get into “When the God-Man Passes By.”  The fiddle on it gives it just a tad of the country vibe, but that just makes it more fun.  The lyrics put a spin on the life changing experiences that Zacchaeus and the woman in John 8 had with Jesus.  The idea, of course, being that things are never the same after an experience with Jesus.  It’s such a fun, upbeat song that you can’t help tapping along when you listen to it.

Another fun song is “Song That the Angels Can’t Sing.”  It’s built around the idea that the angels haven’t been saved from sin, so, while they spend all day praising God, the song of the redeemed is something uniquely human to sing.  Again, it has that note of country to it, is very upbeat, and just at ton of fun to listen to.

The problem comes with the rest of the disc.  I’m not a fan of many worship oriented songs – you know, the songs that are aimed at Sunday morning worship services.  They just seem a bit weak to me.  Casting Crown’s attempts at those songs are no different, and they fill out this disc.  It’s not that they are bad songs, but they just don’t match the rest of what this group can put out.

Still, there are plenty of songs in The Very Next Thing to keep fans of this group happy.  Their discs always get plenty of play time from me.  While this might not be quite as heavily rotated as some of their others, I will still be listening to it plenty.

CD Length: 54:04
1. Hallelujah
2. The Very Next Thing
3. One Step Away
4. Oh My Soul
5. What If I Gave Everything
6. God of All My Days
7. When the God-Man Passes By
8. For All You Are
9. Song That the Angels Can’t Sing
10. Make Me a River
11. No Other Name
12. Loving My Jesus

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