Musically speaking (since hearts can't be judged), David Crowder*Band has proven themselves to be one of the best in the worship genre. Last year, they released a monster album called Church Music, which became one of our top picks for 2009 while surprisingly (yet deservingly) winning a Dove Award for Worship Album of the Year. With the double-vinyl edition release of the album last fall came an exclusive download card featuring acoustic versions of four of its songs. This June, DC*B released them (with a different acoustic version of "How He Loves") on an EP called Summer Happiness.
The four songs chosen were spread all throughout Church Music. Summer Happiness starts its acoustic voyage with "Alleluia, Sing," shortened to "Alleluia." It got a straightforward transition from the song's rock sound to two acoustic guitars and Crowder's slightly raw vocals. Next they revisit their cover of John Mark McMillan's "How He Loves." Like "Alleluia," the acoustic rendition of "How He Loves" has basically the same structure, with only slight differences. The big draw for me on this song is that it's just Crowder and an acoustic guitar through the entirety of the song. Not saying I don't enjoy the other bandmembers (I definitely do), but hearing the song stripped down so dramatically gives a new appreciation for the passion and incredibly-written and heartfelt lyricism of the song. Parts of the song are actually sung with more intensity this time around, but not more than what the song could handle. A truly beautiful rendition. "Oh Happiness" was one of my favorite songs from Church Music, and its acoustic counterpart is just as joyful and lovely to listen to, while being about a minute shorter. I missed the high electronic section from the original version's chorus, but it's still a great song, and I actually had to go back and listen again after it was over. The EP closes by going back to an earlier song on the tracklist of Church Music, "Shadows." It's only five seconds shorter than the original, and it does include some more electronic stuff, but only with a quiet beat that sounds like a drum machine. The feel of the song transitions well into the acoustic sound, letting listeners get the same out of this version that they would from the original.
Summer Happiness is a real treat for fans of Church Music, but it's also good for those who haven't even heard it (or for those who weren't crazy about the electronic vibe of the studio album). They're very well done acoustic worship songs that, even in their broken down state, do a great job not falling into the generic worship sound. Those who haven't heard the originals also might be inclined to give them a listen, so this seems to be not only a good move for the listeners who get more from their favorite worship band, but also a great move for DC*B and the record label. A win-win situation. With the cost of this EP being so low (in addition to the songs being terrific renditions), there's no real reason not to pick this one up.
- Review date: 7/7/10, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com