Review Summary: Catchy Christian folk rock with a Nashville twang. Deep lyrical content that kicked Derek Webb out of Christian book stores.
Christian music can be so lame. Listening to a contemporary Christian music record can leave even the most positive person a little undone by the 'perfect' world view that spews out of each note played and word sung. That being said, not all Christian music follows in this vein. More specifically Derek Webb, formally of Caedmon's Call (a band that sounds like what I just described), released a record that struck a chord with conglomerate Christian America with the result of his record being banned from Christian bookstores.
She Shall and Must Go Free is a record written with the sole purpose of exposing the flaws of the American Church and of the people who comprise of it. Derek Webb weaves a biblical theme long forgotten in modern America of the church being the bride of Christ. In songs like, She Must and Shall Go Free, Lover, Wedding Dress, and The Church, Webb observes the current relationship between Christ and the church. In the song 'Wedding Dress,' Webb introspectively looks at who he is as a person and how far away he is from the person that he should be as the 'bride' of Christ. In the chorus he sings with every ounce of his gut, 'I am a whore I do confess, but I put you on just like a wedding dress and I run down the aisle, I'm a prodigal with no way home, but I put you on just like a ring of gold and I run down the aisle.' Webb views his actions in the biblical wedding analogy as those of a whore running away from a faithful lover for 'the call of lovers less wild.' In 'The Church,' Webb broadens the analogy to the whole church. Writing from the perspective of Jesus, Webb declares concerning the church, 'I have long pursued her as a harlot and a whore, but she will feast upon me, she will drink and thirst no more.' In comparing the Christian church to a harlot and a whore, Webb came under intense scrutiny by his Christian label and Christian distributors. For this reason he was dropped from Christian bookstores and now has to release his albums independently. Yet he views himself as an artist who will sing about what he feels. His album is littered with honest exclamations of who he is and what he thinks should be. He declares himself 'a bastard child' in Wedding Dress, honestly confesses that 'if you want my spirit, you gotta take my booze... 'cause I'm not a half a man, Lord knows I love you, but a saint and sinner is what I am.'
Webb music is thought provoking, his guitar playing is subtle and complementary. He won't blow anyone away with a soaring melody or impressive vocal run, but he will be honest because that is all he can and will do.