Expressions of Christian faith have evolved and morphed over millennia, but with a sound proudly influenced by contemporary pop, one artist is helping define the Christian music of our times. David Crowder, the popular contemporary Christian artist known as Crowder, has a new single, “Good God Almighty,” sitting at #1 on Christian charts for several weeks now. Last month, Crowder released his new album “Milk and Honey,” a collection of songs produced during the pandemic, with Crowder working remotely with Nashville producers from his Atlanta studio. He joined “City Lights” producer Summer Evans to talk about his experience during the pandemic, and the themes that inspired his new record.
The tricky task of defining Christian music:
“It feels like the music of the church, what you would encounter on a Sunday morning, is really close to what you would be hearing on pop radios, and a lot of it has come from cross-pollination between Black church and white church – there’s such a great blurring of the line between what it means to sing together on a Sunday morning, in terms of the gospel, or just contemporary pop music, and it’s been really exciting to watch that happen.”
“Having been in Atlanta for a good amount of time… [my music] definitely has more of an urban foundation in the rhythm section. There’s a lot more 808 kick drum than there used to be. But I still have that Appalachian acoustic instrumentation with banjos and fiddles, and that kind of thing,” said Crowder. “I’m not sure what to call it. ‘Sweet tea and gasoline,’ is the closest I can get,” he joked.
On the power of music to heal:
“There’s a voice in everybody’s head that’s like, ‘You’re not good enough, you’re less than, your mistakes have rendered you beyond redemption.’ And I think these songs say, ‘That’s a lie.’ It says that there’s grace, that there’s redemption,” said Crowder. “I think that’s what you go to the movies to see, as well. You go because you believe that there is redemption. And that part of it, I think that’s why a lot of people, in bleaker times, turn to church music.”
“Since most of my lyric is very intentionally vertical… I would like for us to sing to God now,” said Crowder. “It helps us understand each other, and understand how we relate to the divine. And as well, I think it gives us a picture of community. In the middle of the pandemic, we also had a lot of heightened cultural emotions that we were trying to work through, and I think a lot of that was due to the distance that we were feeling from one another. And it’s very difficult to argue when you’re trying to harmonize.”
Reconnecting with the Bible, where the title ‘Milk and Honey’ title came from:
“During the season of quarantine, my wife and I started just reading the Bible together, just from the beginning. We had never done that before as a couple… She was asking all these questions. And scripture is hilarious – we started underlining stuff that was funny to us in green, and there’s a lot of green in the Old Testament,” said Crowder.
“The best-selling book of all time is the Bible. It’s ingenious how the narratives all intersect and are connected. The very first story you’re encountering is a story of displacement… Here is the created, walking in perfect communion with the creator, and then there is displacement. And the rest of the narrative, the whole meta-arc of all of the books – how do you get back into communion with the one who made you?”
“The crazy thing is, I heard Neil DeGrasse Tyson on the Rogan podcast… it just blew my mind, and he said, ‘Milk and honey are the only things that we can eat that don’t involve death. That all animal and plant products die for us to eat their leaves and flesh, but milk and honey – nothing does. So that, for me, is like, ‘promised land’ equals a place flowing with just life and more life… We had already finished the record and everything, and what a great metaphor to have just happened onto… in the middle of what felt like a pretty bleak time together, collectively. I was just ready for the other side of it, and knew there was going to be something to sing about when we get there.”