Fair Trade Services
Release Date: November 18th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Fall Afresh
- Blessed Assurance
- All Rise (Jesus Majesty)
- It Is Well
- Take Me Home
“…The whole Rehearsals idea is us learning songs that the church is singing and putting our own unique spin on them. We wanted to keep the general flow of Rehearsals Vol. 2 the same as Vol. 1, so we curated a track listing that combined a few worship tracks, some classic hymns and some new material. We really enjoy the relationship we have with our fans, and a direct release through our website allows us the ability to dictate the pricing and options of the release. We’re also able to offer things like song stems, chord charts, and vinyl for much cheaper than through traditional outlets…” The David Crowder Band have been disbanded for quite a while now, and I can still remember the news like it was yesterday. While bittersweet, the two new acts that followed (Crowder and The Digital Age) have taken the worship market by storm, with both bands being highly successful. Crowder released his debut Neon Steeple this year, as well as his music video of “Come As You Are” this week, to critical and commercial acclaim; yet it is The Digital Age (Mike D, B-Wack, Mark Waldrop and Jack Parker) that have impressed me more personally.
Already releasing Rehearsals Vol. 1 EP (full of worship covers, reworked DC*B tunes and hymns) and their first full length label album Evening: Morning; the guys are back this week to unveil Rehearsals Vol. 2. With Mike D and Mark excelling in the lead vocals; I am simply blown away, as the 4 piece band deliver brilliant covers of hymns and well known worship tunes, as well as a few new tracks! I am definitely excited for the rest of The Digital Age‘s future (more so than Crowder’s anticipated career!), and I commend Fair Trade Services for signing the group.
Immediately when looking at the track list, my eyes drifted to the cover of “Oceans”. Originally a slower paced piano and synth led ballad turned epic orchestral type worship anthem recorded by Hillsong UNITED and sung by Taya Smith; The Digital Age turn this smash hit and well respected melody into an electronic remix. While still preserving the slow pace, there is autotune added, and plenty of ‘out there’ instruments for me to sit up and take notice. Thematically and lyrically, the epic anthemic prayer, and declaration of Jesus’ sovereignty, delves into the fact that we can call upon His name, and rest in the hope and security that we are God’s and He is ours; and the song has taken off in a way unlike no other Hillsong song in recent years. Brilliantly covered by Mike D, Mark and co, my favourite part of the song was the metal/scream bridge, and the turning of the song gradually into a rock anthem, with a stirring and riveting electric guitar solo. Though never straying from the original, this song is well deserving of its spot, and we are met with a song that confronts and reassures at the same time, and asks us the question of whether we’d follow God in the direction that He calls us to when he calls us to it. Simple yet effective, The Digital Age put their own spin on one of my favourite songs expertly and I commend them for it!
“Fall Afresh” by Jeremy Riddle, is the other worship cover, and this track is transformed from an acoustic guitar led reflective slow tempo piece to a synth and keys prominent remix and electronic dance worship anthem, which is definitely an enhancement to me. With the band owning this cover, it’s probably the most inventive cover I have heard in quite a while, and one of my favourite songs from the band on this EP! Extending the song from 3 minutes to 6 minutes, there’s an epic guitar solo and parts of spontaneous worship for variety, as the band sing and ask God to fall afresh on them, and ‘…pour in me to overflow…’. The band also include the compelling and powerful hymn of “It Is Well”, a slow paced electric guitar led captivating worship anthem, later on culminating to an epic worship anthem and spontaneous free worship, as the band emphatically sing out about the faithfulness of God, and that whatever our circumstances, God is with us, and everything is well with our souls. The banjo focused fresh and vibrant hymn “Blessed Assurance” is also featured here, sung to a very quick pace, but never forsaking the message of singing to God our testimonies and praising Him for who He is. Yet the final two original songs present on this emphatic and eclectic EP are some of the best songs that The Digital Age have ever recorded!
“All Rise (Jesus Majesty)” is a mid tempo worship ballad led by the mysterious and haunting electric guitars, and almost sung in a hymn like fashion, and has the band beautifully expressing their thankfulness and gratitude to God, that He is holy and sovereign. As the band sing out ‘…all rise for You our King, Jesus, majesty, from death to life, You set us free, Jesus majesty…’, there’s a sense of wonder and a vulnerable moment of surrender, as we come together and worship the almighty, in the most simple yet effective way. The favourite part for me is the bridge, where Mike and Mark sing together in harmony, and cry out ‘…death cannot hold us down any longer, we’re alive for You now and forever…’, amongst the fervent and explosive guitars and synth, and it’s great when the song ends on a more subtle and contemplative note with just the piano. The final song on the EP is “Take Me Home”, a country inspired ukulele and piano led heartfelt and poignant melody, there the band take on the persona of someone who is nearer to the end of their life, and longing to be home with Jesus and away from all of the pain. While the song may have been inspired by a band member’s family member or the song could have been made up in terms of having no direct inspiration, we all have family members and friends who are sick and/or older, and this song is sure to hit home with many. Well done guys for creating a song that may be uncomfortable, but can be used in the healing process by God to everyone who can and will listen.
If you thought that Rehearsals Vol 1 would be a one-off, then I guess you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The Digital Age carries on musically and thematically where David Crowder*Band left off, and fills the void of the 10 year Waco Texan band, along with Crowder’s solo venture! With two original tracks present here, there is plenty for us to be excited by musically and lyrically, as these are some of the strongest songs to date that they have recorded! How about David Crowder singing guest vocals on the next Digital Age album? Well done guys, you thoroughly deserve all the praise and success!
3 songs to listen to: All Rise (Jesus Majesty), Blessed Assurance, Oceans
RIYL: Leeland, All Sons And Daughters, Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Matt Redman