H E’S NO N E WCOM E R TO THE CHRISTIAN M USIC SCENE, BU T T H ER E’S S O M E T H I N G R E A L LY FR ESH A BOU T HIS N E W A L BU M. W E S AT D O W N W I T H CROW DER T O D I S C U S S H O W, AFTER 20 YEARS, HE’S FINDING A W HOL E N E W VOICE . BY MARGO ROBINSON
Crowder’s highly anticipated second solo album completes the shiﬅ in his sound.
lot has changed over the last two decades. Three different presidents sat in the White House. The internet grew from a novelty to an irreplaceable part of the developed world. And more sociocultural shifts have occurred than you could name. One thing that’s the same, however, is that worship artist David Crowder is still making music. But unlike similar long-term Christian singers, Crowder’s music itself isn’t the same at all. In 2012, Crowder’s namesake group, the David Crowder Band, played its last show, ending the tenure of one of Christian rock ‘n’ roll’s most prominent outfits. Two years later, Crowder released his solo debut, Neon Steeple. The album, by and large, featured lyrical continuity with previous Crowderwritten songs. But his sound hinted at a stylistic pivot. In September, Crowder released a second solo album, American Prodigal, which completed his southward turn— into the geographically rooted, soulful sounds of the Gulf Coast and the Southern experience. Crowder calls it “swamp music.” If you imagine Bobbie Gentry or J.J. Grey singing late 20th-century hymns and black spirituals, you’re on the right track. In this new genre, Crowder says he’s found the vocal home he’s been trying to find for 20 years. But evolving his music hasn’t been easy, and any innovation for an artist who
built his work around helping others worship God involves a balancing act. We sat down with Crowder to get the story behind his evolved sound, the process of discovering his voice and pushing his art while trying to serve his listeners. THE NEW ALBUM DRAWS HEAVILY FROM JESUS’ PARABLE OF THE PRODIGAL SON. WHY THAT THEME?
I was thinking about songs and starting to think about the new record when at our church, there was a series about the Prodigal Son. The story is actually about a number of characters, and the word “prodigal” actually means, “the one who has been lavished upon.” Here’s the deal: I was born in Texarkana, Texas, and it’s a town that’s divided—half in Arkansas and half is in Texas. Half of the post office was in Texas and half was in Arkansas. And you knew this because there was a pole at the steps that had a Texas sign on one side and an Arkansas sign on the other. You’re supposed to stand there and put your feet on each side of the lines and say, “Oh my gosh, I’m in two states at the same time, take my picture, this is amazing.” And so I did that and you know what, turns out you can’t feel a difference. I think a lot of these lines that we have that separate us, somebody has put there and it’s not what’s intended and nobody asked permission. We just feel them. So I think our job when we’ve been given a lot is to figure out how can we be there in the divide to point to the thing and go, “I love you, there’s no divide here.” AMERICAN PRODIGAL EXPANDS ON SOME OF THE TEXTURES WE HEARD IN NEON STEEPLE, NAMELY THE SOULFUL, SWAMPY SOUND. IT ALMOST SEEMS LIKE YOU REDISCOVERED YOUR VOICE.
“Lift Your Head Weary Sinner” off of
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