Review rating: 4.7 / 5
Multi-platinum selling and GRAMMY winning group Casting Crowns has cemented itself as a pillar in the contemporary Christian music community. Over the years, their songs have captivated and inspired millions with unique sounds and sincere lyrics. Their latest release, appropriately titled The Very Next Thing, is certainly no exception. With a variety of themes and sounds spread across its tracks, Casting Crowns continues its legacy with melodic ingenuity and contemplative God-honoring lyrics.
The title track “The Very Next Thing” opens with quick electric guitar chords and calm keyboard notes, while Mark Hall’s signature vocals come into play within moments of the opening notes. Similar melodies carry through the chorus, as energetic drums accompany the melody. For such a gentle opening, the track’s surprising and satisfying momentum definitely stands out from the rest of the album. Its lyrics reflect the confidence and enthusiasm presented in the instrumentals. Mark’s words are a prayer expressing submission to God’s will and a request for the strength and power to follow His leading. With a simple lyrical focus and a melody complementing the song’s invigorating themes, “The Very Next Thing” is a Casting Crowns classic.
Farther along is “Oh My Soul,” a unique and refreshing change of lyrical focus. The keyboard takes a slightly darker tone and subtly pounding drums add a slow beat, though the song’s tempo and volume rise as the tone lightens for the chorus. Borrowing concepts and themes from some of David’s most desperate Psalms and Ezekiel’s prophecy, the lyrics are an introspective conversation about pain and loneliness. “Oh my soul, you are not alone, there is a place where fear has to face the God you know,” Mark sings in the chorus, “one more day, He will make a way … because you’re not alone.” It’s a beautiful and creative, for lack of a better phrase, thematic throwback to the struggles described in many a Psalm.
“What If I Gave Everything” projects a unique sound with its minor key piano, drums, and the slight hint of tambourine. Vocally, Mark Hall takes the stage for the verses and a choir of echoing background vocals support him throughout the chorus. It’s a creative yet hard to describe sound – dare I say a mashup of blues and gospel? Either way, the tone perfectly fits the message of the song. Its lyrics describe the struggle between personal security and zealous ambition to serve Jesus Christ. The chorus balances regret – “What if I gave everything? What if I stopped holding back from You?” – with resolve – “Starting out I’m stepping out onto deeper waters.” The track expresses a struggle every Christian has or will face in their walk with God, while inspiring listeners to action.
Standing in contrast to those more contemplative tones is “Song The Angels Can’t Sing.” In a bit of a genre twist, acoustic guitar, rapid string instruments, drums, and clapping create a country and western atmosphere. It’s energetic, upbeat, and definitely makes listeners want to sing and dance along. Vocalist Melodee DeVevo takes the lead, expressing praise for Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of the world. The song’s clever insight adds a bit of reflection – angels don’t need salvation, but even though we fell into sin, Jesus was still willing to die for us. The response to such a significant truth? A joyful, upbeat, celebration of “the Lamb that was slain.”
Casting Crown’s country and western tones carry across to the closing track “Loving My Jesus” and “When The Godman Passes By.” In contrast, the opening track “Hallelujah,” “God Of All My Days,” and “For All You Are” have calmer melodies and worship-focused lyrics. The one track that stands out to this reviewer for its creativity and originality, though perhaps too prematurely restrained, is “Make Me A River,” a soft rock ballad with electric guitar rock chords and moving drums. Songs such as these express Casting Crown’s versatility and creative palette of sounds.
The Very Next Thing is the perfect name for an album that’s clearly a leap forward from the vast musical experience of Casting Crowns. It’s a diverse, creative record that sounds amazing and presents a mixture of joyful and contemplative lyrics. There is a mix of worship, praise, and even a few songs that simply express His presence in our hardships and struggles. All of these attributes make The Very Next Thing a worthy addition to the Casting Crown’s collection and a record that will likely withstand the test of time.