Grammy Award winning group Casting Crowns recently released their 8th studio album The Very Next Thing. Known for classic Christian contemporary music that fits a variety of moods and occasions, The Very Next Thing continues the tradition of good music that comes out of this group’s efforts.
This album holds fans’ attention from the very start with “Hallelujah”. The intro swells in, building to set a worshipful mood. The verses are low key, softer, and crescendo for the chorus, which is driven by a passion filled drum beat. The climax of this song is the powerful bridge.
The title track, “The Very Next Thing” comes in with rhythm guitar and lead singer Mark Hall. Background vocalist and pianist Megan Garrett makes her album debut in the chorus. This song is about asking God to show us what he has for us next. It inspires listeners to be willing and ready to serve Him. Gang vocals in the bridge paired with a groove by drummer Brian Scoggins creates a fun syncopation. “Eyes wide open I see you working/ all around me You’re on the move/ step by step I’m running to meet you in the next thing,” are the lyrics from the bridge.
“One Step Away” is the current radio single from the album and it’s been in the top 5 of Billboard’s Christian Airplay Chart in recent weeks. In the chorus lead vocals and background vocals shine above chords by a synth.
Taking on a more somber tone, “Oh My Soul” begins with a piano intro. Poetically written to the soul, this track is similar to a psalm penned to encourage a weary soul. “There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know,” are lyrics that so comfortingly declare that fears have no power compared to our God. Mark Hall’s lead vocals as well as the backing vocals throughout this reflect the tone so well. Strings added to the bridge complement the lyrical and musical beauty of this track.
“What if I Gave Everything” starts with a piano intro, adding guitar and drums for the chorus. This track speaks to the theme of going all in for Christ, going into “deeper waters” instead of staying in the shallow end as the underlying metaphor. Musically, it presents a Gospel vibe when a choir comes in to join Mark in the second verse.
“God of all my Days” is also a soft worship song praising God for his constant love even when we run from Him. He is a God that “relentlessly pursues”. More instruments are added to the chorus, where Mark sings, “God of all my days/ each step I take/ You make a way/ and I will give you all my praise”. The bridge is a powerful reminder with bursts of truth built into parallel lyrics, In my weakness/ God you are my power.”
s“When the Godman Passes By” starts acapella with Mark Hall, Megan Garrett, and Melodee Devevo singing a beautiful harmony. This tune has a southern Bluegrass flavor, with a violin and tambourine for rhythm. Verse 2 is Megan’s first solo verse on the album, and her voice is always a treat to the ears. Among the other tracks on this album, this one in particular showcases the most of the band’s individual talents, especially in the vocals of Megan and violin playing of Melodee.
Speaking of surrender of all of our lives to God, “For all You Are” is on the soft side beginning with Mark’s vocals. Melodee Devevo has solo vocals in verse two, and there are some sweet harmonies throughout.
“Song that the Angels Can’t Sing” is another great Megan Garrett vocal solo over acoustic guitar and an upbeat rhythm in nature. It’s got a southern twang in the sound of the violin meshed with guitar.
A steady snare-driven pulse remains throughout the song “Make Me a River”. It’s a prayer to God to flow through us like living water. The harmonies in “Make Me a River” are unique- offering a 3 part harmony in the chorus.
“No Other Name” is a soft and worshipful acoustic- sounding cover of one of Hillsong’s popular releases. Vocally focused and powerful is this track on Mark’s part. What makes it special is the gang vocals in the background for the chorus.
To close the album, “Loving My Jesus” has acoustic guitar intro and the verses are simply Mark Hall singing. The violin is added in the chorus and a drum beat comes in for the second verse. This song is a perfect closer to the album in tying together the worshipful parts of the album with the storytelling songs on the album.
Lyrically strong as always, Casting Crowns speaks truth in poetry and music in this release. Something new that listeners will notice is that the band used more synth effects than on previous albums. There are also not as many female vocal solos as I’d like, but the features that Megan and Melodee do have are done very well. Overall, The Very Next Thing is a must-add to CCM fans’ music libraries.