Ministry is what defines Casting Crowns. All of the members are still active in local church ministry in spite of the over 200 concert appearances they have made over the last 2 years. Mark Hall, in fact, is still employed as the youth pastor at his home church, although he has had to hire some additional help due to his hectic schedule
"It is the ministry that creates the songs, not the other way around," states Hall. And the same is true for Lifesong, the much-anticipated sophomore release from Casting Crowns. From the anthemic title cut to the moving ballad, "Praise You In the Storm," this new album is once again an unapologetic collection of messages targeting the church.
"All of life is worship. If we're not careful we will 'praise worship' and 'worship praise.' We begin to look at worship as an experience when, in reality, our corporate worship is simply the culmination of the life we should be living all week long. The songs on this new album try to look at what a life of worship looks like. Whether we are called to 'Praise God in this Storm' or simply 'Love Them Like Jesus' we must begin to see all of life as about Him and not us. That is what we want to say to the church this time around."
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Lifesong| Posted March 28, 2008
Wow. I was holding out on this band for whatever reason and it turns out it was hurting me more than hurting them. I never thought I'd say a CD could change my life but in a sense this one at least altered it. How, do you ask? Well, in a time where I was struggling with what I could do in my walk with God this album gave me a clear message. First of all, I saw how much my mood was lightened when I started my long commute to work with this CD instead of a depressing, secular one. That should've been obvious to me but I was still holding onto it stubbornly. Secondly, Lifesong has a clear theme about how every area of your life should be worship to God. Again, something that should've been obvious to me but sometimes I forget, or rather push it out of my mind, when there seems to be an easier road.
Now, this isn't a concept album in the sense that all the songs connect directly to a story or act as one large track instead of 11 individual ones. Each song has it's own characters and storyline that all have that central theme of living for God as best you can. You could very easily take a few songs and draw connections though. It probably helped that I had his Lifestories book that describes the meaning of all these songs (and those from the first album). I'd strongly advise picking that up just for the amazing testimonies in itself. One, in particular, was gut-wrenching, 'Praise You In This Storm'. It's a story of an 8-year-old girl who lost her battle with cancer. Through it all her mother, and family, kept the faith and worship going as her condition rapidly declined. Since the song was released as a single it's been aptly used for Hurricane Katrina, but no matter how the listener relates it's a very engaging song, and that's just talking about the message! Much like all Casting Crowns songs, there's a powerful climax built up from the beginning and it doesn't fail to deliver with strings, passionate vocals, piano notes and more in harmony.
Mark Hall, vocalist and frontman, has an amazing and annointed voice, of which he uses to sing the songs with such meaning and passion. There are some female vocals peppered in at all the right moments as well. While Casting Crowns may create simple music the overall impact is anything but simple. I particularly relate to 'Set Me Free', or at least I did a couple years ago when I first found what I was looking for. I wish I had this music back then because it would've floored me. Instead it brings back memories of all I've been through and set free from that I can never forget.
Most of the songs are of a slow tempo until the chorus kicks in except for 'Father, Spirit, Jesus'. That one is more of an upbeat worship song worthy to be danced to. And somehow the album comes to a wonderful close with 'And Now my Lifesong Sings'. It perfectly wraps up the theme of the album but I say 'somehow' because it's so simple yet so beautiful and piercing. The lyrics are sort of lifted from the classic 'Amazing Grace' but not entirely and they are presented in a different way. In my collection of music, Casting Crowns has a very important place. It's easy listening amidst a lot of hard rock and every bit welcomed for it's message and reminder of what this life is all about.
Gems of this album are: 'Set Me Free', 'Praise You In This Storm', 'Father, Spirit, Jesus', 'Does Anybody Hear Her'
Great!| Posted August 22, 2007
The follow up from the outstanding Casting Crowns self titled debut, comes their second album, powered by good music and the best lyrics in the Christian music community.
Life song's music is light rock, praise and worship, and contemporary, with the gripping rock song "set me free". The music isn't always spectacular, but it's good. The hit "life song" is a great sounding song for the beginning of the album that may sound just a bit to much like their last CD. Mark Hall has very good vocals as he carry's his tunes well. But like their first one, the final tracks don't make as much of an impact as the first half of the CD does.
Casting Crowns tells a story rather than sings a song, as their lyrics are some of the best on today's Christian music. "Life song" is probably the weakest song in terms of depth. The hits "praise you in the storm" and "does anybody hear her" are wonderful songs, if not overplayed. "Stain Glass masquerade" and "while you were sleeping" are fantastic songs that are very thoughtful.
If not as good as their first CD than it's really close, because Life Song lacks nothing on its lyrics and still has good music.
Packed With More Heart| Posted June 12, 2007
If there ever was question before, Casting Crowns certainly solidified their spot as one of the top Christian bands in recent years. And we're just one week into the release of their sophomore album.
With over 71,000 units scanned in the first week, their new album, Lifesong, debuted at No. 9 on Billboard's Top 200 album chart, surpassing sales of new CDs from Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton. In the digital world, they broke records for Christian album downloads and the first single landed at No. 12 on the mainstream Digital Album chart. For those of you keeping track at home, it's the highest first-week sales for a Christian act since Nov. 2003.
So how does a band less than two years old accomplish such a feat? By doing what so many artists are not these days: creating great music. Lifesong is packed with more of the same heart that drove their debut album past one million units sold and shipped three number one songs to radio.
"The songs on this new album try to look at what a life of worship looks like," says Mark Hall of Casting Crowns. "Whether we are called to 'Praise God in this Storm' or simply 'Love Them Like Jesus' we must begin to see all of life as about Him and not us. That is what we want to say to the church this time around."
Not unlike their debut, Mark slams some hard hitting balls straight at the church with challenges of continuing to reach out, standing strong in faith and staying true to the call on songs like "Stained Glass Masquerade" and "Does Anybody Hear Her." "I don't think it bothers the world that we sin," Mark continues. "I think it bothers the world that we act like we don't."
Stand out tracks on the new album include "Love Them Like Jesus" and what is sure to be their next #1 radio smash, "Praise You In This Storm," a song that still sends chills down my spine after multiple spins. "As your mercy falls I raise my hands, and praise the God who gives and takes away." That's a line that can drive a grown man on his knees, especially with the events Americans are facing with the hurricane tragedy. "Set Me Free" is a welcome harder edge to this band that lives comfortably in the contemporary genre.
On an almost perfect album, the only unfortunate misfire on the album is quickly forgivable. "In Me" moves right along until a child starts singing the chorus. "Shhhh, the grownups are singing. Interrupting is rude." But trying to find fault in the other tracks will prove fruitless.
Casting Crowns has released one of the best albums of the year that is both musically and lyrically solid in every way, shape and form.
Simply Powerful| Posted August 22, 2007
Well, you will receive far less of my ramblings on this album than I gave on the last; I got my spiel out, so need to repeat.
Let me start by saying this: 'Lifesong' is, of all things, powerful. Yes, you can argue that the music is little less than inventive, or that some of the themes are so often heard, your three year old could make one. But you can't deny that Mark Hall has a way of giving you goose pumps with his powerful voice. The first song, and probably my favorite is 'Lifesong,' and to me, when Mark Hall earnestly sings out the second line of the chorus, I'm blown away. He's crying passionately to God, and it gives you chills to hear the honesty. Despite the overused 'hallelujah' bridge, and the explicit U2 intro, that song gets me right here : ).
'Praise You in the Storm' is, if you haven't noticed by now, the most popular Christian radio song of the decade. It's a great song, and I love the end, where the piano and guitar sound so cool in the finale. 'Does Anybody Hear Her' displays some of Mark Hall's past goal; challenging the Church. The lyrics are exceptional: 'Judgment looms under every steeple/with lofty glances from lofty people/ can't see past her scarlet letter/ and they've never even met her.' 'Stained Glass Masquerade' is another Church-challenging song that has Nichole Nordemen in it (strange, since Casting Crowns apparently isn't lacking in good female singers). On this album, in contrast to the last, the girl singers appear far less, and when they do, its only as a background singer (save the song 'In Me' which is a little disappointing, since they add variety to the mix.
The heart tugging, tear jerking 'Love Them Like Jesus' is a favorite of mine on the album (yes, I admit it). Despite the fact that it's a 'Mom song' its still very powerful with a powerful message. But, far better is the following track. Casting Crowns proves what it can do with music with their dark rocker 'Set Me Free.' The hopelessness etched in Mark Hall's lyrics and vocals are surprising, considering the past quieter songs, and when he gets to the powerful chorus line ('Set Me Free!'), you get hyped up. A great narration of a demon possessed man in captivity who is freed by Jesus. 'And as the God-man passes by/ He looks straight through my eyes/ the darkness can not hide...Do you want to be free?' Just great. And, my third favorite, after 'Lifesong' and 'Set Me Free' is the unique 'While You Were Sleeping.' In it, Hall sings about how Bethlehem and Jerusalem were caught sleeping when the Savior did great things (was born/died and rose to life). Sounds nice and jolly, but when the next line comes in, I got chills:
'United States of America, looks like another silent night...' The way he sings it, so honestly, is almost disturbing. He then goes on to say 'as we're sung to sleep by philosophies/ that saves the trees and kill the children/ and as we're lying in the dark/there's a shout heard cross the eastern sky...'). Excellent lyrics.
As fellow reviewers have said, the second half of Casting Crowns albums leave something to be desired. Formulaic and 'only nice' songs fill the void between 'While You Were Sleeping' and the great closer 'And Now My Lifesong Sings.' While Casting Crowns doesn't make spectacular improvement from their last album, I can say for sure that despite their criticism for being unimaginative and repeat all their songs, I will definitely buy their next album. Actually, my family has already pre-ordered it : )
Lifesong| Posted November 14, 2011
Casting Crowns is an amazing band that crafts beautiful songs that not only inspire on a musical level, but also engage you and cause you to evaluate your own life and think about things on a deeper level. This release has many songs that have ministered to me over the years. A well crafted album throughout.
CC!| Posted November 07, 2011
The follow up from the outstanding Casting Crowns self titled debut, comes their second album, powered by good music and the best lyrics in the Christian music community. Life song's music is light rock, praise and worship, and contemporary, with the gripping rock song "set me free". The music isn't always spectacular, but it's good. The hit "life song" is a great sounding song for the beginning of the album that may sound just a bit to much like their last CD. Mark Hall has very good vocals as he carry's his tunes well. But like their first one, the final tracks don't make as much of an impact as the first half of the CD does. Casting Crowns tells a story rather than sings a song, as their lyrics are some of the best on today's Christian music. "Life song" is probably the weakest song in terms of depth. The hits "praise you in the storm" and "does anybody hear her" are wonderful songs, if not overplayed. "Stain Glass masquerade" and "while you were sleeping" are fantastic songs that are very thoughtful. If not as good as their first CD than it's really close, because Life Song lacks nothing on its lyrics and still has good music.
Hall of Fame Album| Posted August 05, 2009
This is Casting Crowns best work. Lifesong is a song that inspires you to make an impact on this world. Mark Hall and company hit a grand slam with this album. Then Praise You in the Storm was written before hurricane Katrina but the album came out the week after the hurricane hit New Orleans. Does Anybody Hear Her is an awesome song about the church today and how we can overlook individual members. Set Me Free is passionate and rocking. If you were only going to buy one Casting Crowns CD, this would be it but once you buy one I am sure you will buy another one.
Casting Crowns' Best| Posted March 13, 2009
Casting Crowns' second album "Lifesong" is one of the best CD's I've ever heard in my life. I love every single song, and know them by heart. The lyrics in this album are very inspirational and speak to an audience in distress and confusion.
Basically what I'm saying is: Buy the CD!