""She Must and Shall Go Free" is a superb debut solo album from former Caedmon's Call singer/songwriter/guitarist Derek Webb.
It comes once in a blue moon when an artist releases an album that hits home lyrically and musically. "She Must and Shall Go Free" is such an album.
In a sense, this CD could be considered a concept album not in a progressive-rock sense but in a lyrical sense. Nearly every song on the album serves as a wake-up call to the Church and to bring it back to what it truly is, God's Temple. This theme is most apparent is the title track as well as "Take To The World", the controversial "Wedding Dress" and the closing track "The Church".
Musically, the album is close to the older style of Caedmon's Call (ie: the "40 Acres" album). Derek fuses a delightful mix of folk, rock and country influences and the overall sound is very much acoustic-based. Comparisons to Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter Paul and Mary immediately come to mind only this music has a slightly harder edge. There is even a hint of the late Rich Mullins' style in this music. All of it is very well-performed and arranged. Each track has enough hooks to bring a smile to anyone's face (even on the more serious pieces).
Guests on the album include Sara Groves, all members of Jars Of Clay, Phil Madiera and Caedmon's Call drummer Garett Buell.
This is a great solo debut from an extremely gifted singer/songwriter. Derek Webb's future as a solo artist looks very promising. "She Must and Shall Go Free" is one of my top 10 Christian albums for 2003. Listen to it and it'll probably become one of yours as well. Highly Recommended!!"
A Resounding "State of the Church" Address
Rae Whitlock | Columbus, OH USA | 03/30/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Webb, formerly of Caedmon's Call, paints a dichotomous picture of the Church in his solo debut, "She Must and Shall Go Free." In it, he portrays her as both an unfaithful wife and as the beautiful, radiant bride of Christ.
While most of the album is styled in the familiar folksy tone of Caedmon's Call, he sometimes diverges into different sounds (the bluesy, Dylanesque "Nothing (Without You)," or the bluegrass-like "Crooked Deep Down," for example). The result is a truly beautiful work, both lyrically and musically, born out of Derek Webb's love for the Church.
Some overly-sensitive Christians may shy away from this album, as it contains some strong lyrics here and there (e.g.: referring to the Church as "a harlot and a whore"), but Webb writes and sings from his convictions and his heart . . . not from a "How To Not Offend Christians" manual. If you can handle realism and honesty in your "Christian" music, then give this a listen. If not, then look elsewhere."
Eclectic songs with one target
Thomas H. Ayers | Bowie, MD United States | 03/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Former guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter of Caedmon's Call, Derek Webb has embarked on a mission to wake up the Bride of Christ, show her the rags she wears, and open her eyes to the Groom who loves her still. Generally speaking, he succeeds admirably.The album opens with a personal statement, "Nobody Loves Me", a sort of "damn the torpedoes" declaration of Webb's purpose in writing this album. A number of songs, such as "Nothing (Without You)", "Wedding Dress", "Saint and Sinner", and "Crooked Deep Down" lament the church's duplicity and adultery in this day and age. Others, such as "Lover" and "Beloved", speak of Jesus' love for the church despite its problems. "Take to the World" and "Awake My Soul" proffer the proper focus for the church's gaze. Lastly, "The Church" takes one last look at Christ and His relationship to His Bride.Lyrically, the songs are all top-notch. Most are penned by Derek Webb himself, including playful and sassy "Nothing (Without You)", plaintive yet uplifting "Lover", confessional "Wedding Dress", and "Beloved", that breaks the heart with the blow of just two words. "Take to the World" is a nice song by Aaron Tate, former songwriter for Caedmon's Call. Written by Sandra McCracken, Webb's wife, "Awake My Soul" is perhaps the finest wrought song on the album and merits inclusion in worship services; this rendition is at least as good as that on Caedmon Call's "Back Home" album--maybe even better.Musically, the album is eclectic: folk, country, snippets of world music, hymn tunes, and some old-timey styles I can't name. The music seems timeless with its use of banjo, accordion, and cello. There's no showmanship, no fancy solos; all is subordinated to the message. Despite the different styles, it all works together to hammer the lyrics home.My only criticism is that the album sometimes seems more like a collection of songs than the concept album it's meant to be. Finely bracketed by "Nobody Loves Me" and "The Church", the other songs don't seem to follow a clear narrative order. The album's message would have been stronger if indicting songs "Saint and Sinner" and "Crooked Deep Down" had been placed between "She Must and Shall Go Free" and "Nothing (Without You). "Take to the World" seems out of place as song #3, near where the indictment of the church begins; it might have been more effective between "Beloved" and "The Church". Given that the indicting songs are more uptempo than the redemptive songs, I suspect the songs' order reflects a desire to maintain musical interest. This is a minor criticism, given that a progression from problems to solutions might have been too hard going--Webb doesn't mince words in his indictments, and his redemptive songs aren't all sweetness and light, either. (As he puts it, the truth is "not an easy sell.")This album is highly recommended for its thought-provoking and ultimately hopeful message and engaging music. Be warned, though: what you see in the mirror of this album may not please you, but you will be better for the seeing."
Excellent Music, Excellent Theology
Evan Day | Brownsburg, IN, United States | 02/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Simply put, this is the sort of honest self introspection the Church needs today. Webb highlights the me-first attitude and other problems in the Western, American Church today, but he does so while leaving himself open. In an interview he spoke of music that "cuts you to your knees" while understanding that the artist is being cut to his knees as well. Webb has spoken of himself as one of the many people who are frustrated with the Church, but then turns around and tells us that we must love Church, because Christ did, and died for her. It is one of the most powerful CDs I've ever listened to."