Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Derek Webb, The Ringing Bell

Derek Webb is a singer-sonwriter who has aroused controversy in the conservative Christian music market.  He was the lead singer and a founding member of the popular Christian group Caedmon’s Call derek webbbefore embarking on a solo career in 2003.  The controversy came with his solo career when he used words like “whore” and “damned” in his lyrics and the conservative Christian community freaked out with some retailers refusing to sell his CDs.  He continued to attract negative attention when subsequent albums took a critical look at social and political issues from a viewpoint that was Christian in outlook but outside the narrow limits proscribed by the orthodox.

“The Ringing Bell” is a short set of electric guitar oriented pop music.  Webb writes straightforward pop/rock tunes with a good hook here and there and a solid command of melody and lyric.  He multitracks himself on vocals, some of which, “Name” for example, have a markedly Rubber Soul era Beatles sound.  Unlike many singer-songwriters, he displays some facility with rhythm on tracks like “I Wanna Marry You All Over Again” which is driven by a rolling bass line placed high in the mix on the break and the verses.  Also unlike many singer-songwriters, Webb’s songs are refreshingly devoid of obsessive self-absorption and twenty-something angst. 

The songs are not overtly Christian in lyrical content although there’s a line here or there that indicates the singer is a Christian.  Some tracks, such as “Savior on Capitol Hill”, have a particular resonance when listened to with the knowledge that the singer is avowedly Christian but the lyrics could be sung just as easily by a singer with little or no interest in Christianity  who was simply disgusted with the greed and corruption of the average politican.  I expect many of the tracks on “The Ringing Bell” work this way; the non-religious will simply hear a set of good pop/rock songs while the faithful will read arcane meaning into the lyrics and get their panties in a twist or not depending on the hidden messages they detect and the extremity of their beliefs.

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10/19/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews

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