After leaving the popular folk-pop group Caedmon's Call in February of 2003 to release his freshman effort, She Must and Shall Go Free, only a month later and then his second work, The House Show, Derek Webb has yet again produced an ambitious album entitled I See Things Upside Down. Does Derek Webb really see things upside down? Well, that's for you to decide. Known for his interesting recording styles, Derek Webb's last record had been recorded in a friends' living room and it seems he's taken his sense of style a step further by recording his newest work in a back bedroom of his own house. If that doesn't show individualism and courage in the music industry then I'm not quite sure what does.
Signed with iNO records (MercyMe, Phillips, Craig & Dean, CeCe Winans), Derek Webb appears to draw inspiration from his former band, Caedmon's Call, with the folk-pop acoustic style that appears in most his songs. But at the same time, Webb puts his own signature on things with the mixture of musical elements projected in his unique sound and the blunt lyrics that don't hit you until they've really had a chance to sink in.
We've seen a few Christian musicians recently who are stepping up against the hypocrisy of the church, proclaiming what is really going on with Christians of this generation. Webb takes this farther with the variety of church related issues he touches on in the songs included on I See Things Upside Down. Just the song titles explain that Webb is not satisfied with what is going on in his surroundings, with titles such as: "The Strong, The Tempted, & The Weak," "Reputation," and "T-Shirts (What We Should Be Known For)."
I See Things... begins with "I Want a Broken Heart," a slow piano based song which opens the album to thinking. It basically puts you into a mood in which you want to continue listening to the record. Next comes "Better Than Wine," a more upbeat acoustic song in which you find a sort of vocal resemblance between Webb and secular artist John Mayer. Later you find a song that caught my attention at first listen. "T-Shirts" is an equivalent of the older praise song "They'll Know We're Christians By Our Love." In this song Webb proclaims that "They'll know us by the t-shirts that we wear, and they'll know us by the way we point and stare, and anyone who's sin looks worse than ours, who can not hide the scars of this curse that we all bear," which is a direct call for an end to the hypocrisy wuthin today's church.
Being someone who hasn't exactly witnessed Webb's work before now, at first I didn't fully appreciate Derek Webb's latest project. But after pondering the depth of the lyrics and realizing that his sound is truly unique, I See Things Upside Down has sort of grown on me and I find it to be beautiful in it's own way. I would recommend this album to all Caedmon's Call fans or any who enjoy this genre of music. All who are interested in music that reaches out of the comfort zone of the church and its stereotypes to grasp concepts seldom addressed will also want to take a look at Webb's exciting new piece.- Review date: 11/5/04, written by Jessica Vander Loop
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