If there’s anything tenured worship artist David Crowder is known for, it’s for doing things differently. For many years, Crowder and his band connected the world to God through his inventive song construction, solidifying a presence in Christian culture that was exciting, ever-changing, and, most importantly, moved the needle. As the years have passed, he has embraced his ability to create and experiment with music, creating a style unique to his efforts. And on his second solo album, Crowder has continued to prove himself as this type of experimental musician. With its wide-reaching selection of genres and styles, American Prodigal is the new breed of worship music.
The album is a big picture analysis of failure and its relationship to salvation, yet it is simultaneously a combination of music and style not often attempted or so successfully executed. American Prodigal starts with an open worship piece typical to Crowder, but the ethereal feeling doesn’t linger long as it dips into the deep Midwestern roots the album will adopt as its home base. “Keep Me” splurges on steel guitars and dances to the rhythm of stomping boots. Similarly, “Run Devil Run” draws a country influence with a taste of rockabilly flavor.
This new Crowder is shocking and undoubtedly separate from anything he’s released before. That element of surprise is experienced time and again as American Prodigal delivers a diverse track list. The eerie indie rock anthem, “Stomping Grounds,” pounds away to the album’s premise of a prodigal come home. Crowder preserves his traditionally signature Sunday worship in a few songs that are sure to enter the queue of church praise in the near future. The most notable of which is “Shepherd” with its beautiful arrangement and incredible lyricism. Another notable mention is the hymn “All We Sinners,” which sounds like its been with us for centuries and has an unspecified patriotism about it.
As a thoughtfully prepared album, American Prodigal revisits the opening music to round out the conclusion of the work. The outro completes the open piece of worship that introduced the album, plugging in some electronic variants that only Crowder could imagine. With the marriage of familiar worship, country inspiration, and future-focused production, this album is a reminder that all we have known is not all there is yet to be.