Derek Webb: Stockholm Syndrome

DerekWebb_StockholmSyndromeProvocative CCM songwriter expands to modern pop and techno

As a songwriter, guitarist and vocalist for Caedmon’s Call, Derek Webb found success in Christian pop circles. But Webb’s calling turned out to be broader than would fit within CCM, and his solo career, launched with 2003’s She Must and Shall Go Free, showed his faith, both in Christ and in his own music, was stronger than some in the Christian world could handle. His approach to writing, and particularly to marketing, has evolved over the years, resulting in free album downloads and the launch of NoiseTrade.com. With his latest solo album he transitions once again, this time sonically, moving away from the singer-songwriter approach and electric guitars of his earlier works, and towards inorganic keyboards, drum machines, synthesizer washes and sampling that bring to mind Radiohead and techno bands.

Webb explores soul, hip-hop, funk, doo-wop, and electronica as his expressive voice provides warmth atop chilly music technology. He’s stirred up controversy and a great deal of blog commentary with the song “What Matters More,” crossing his record label’s comfort level by including a four-letter expletive. Even without the lyric “Meanwhile we sit just like we don’t give a sh*t about 50,000 people who are dyin’ today” the song’s confrontational indictment of Christian hypocrisy with respect to gays and AIDS had to be tough for iNO to release to its traditional customers. The album is being offered in both its original 14-song version (via Webb’s web store) and a “clean” 13-song version that drops the contentious track rather than editing out the offending s-word. True to Webb’s assertion, this is one of the album’s most important tracks and is worth seeking out.

Even without “What Matters More,” there are plenty of Webb’s provocative lyrics. He takes Baptist minister Fred Phelps to task for his decidedly un-Christian hatred of gays, contemplates the seductive nature of oppression, explores cat-and-mouse relationships, and envisions a Heaven that redresses the ailments of modern society. Webb’s couched his lyrics in upbeat melodies and funky bass-and-drums that may distract you from the songs’ thematic weight, but the messages will seep into you as you sing along to Webb’s declaratory words. The few ballads include the doo-wop inspired “Freddie, Please” and moody closer, “American Flag Umbrella,” each providing a rest from the album’s more insistent beats.

This is an adult album, set squarely as a challenge to Christian believers. The album’s title suggests that Webb sees church orthodoxy as a suffocating captor to whom believers become overly attached and sympathetic. Non-Christians will be interested in hearing how Webb’s libertarian philosophy coexists and conflicts with his Christian beliefs. This is neither an evangelical album nor an attack on Christianity, but more the inner monologue of a believer striving to make sense of the dissonance he feels between the religious and secular worlds. Stockholm Syndrome’s political and philosophical ponderings, as well as its modern pop and techno sounds should pick up new fans to replace those CCM listeners who can’t handle Webb’s version of the truth. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | What Matters More
Derek Webb’s Home Page
Derek Webb’s MySpace Page

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5 Responses to “Derek Webb: Stockholm Syndrome”

  1. Not too bad! But i gotta tell you…..drum machines are the bane of my existence

  2. hyperbolium says:

    I can’t really disagree — the synthetic beats aren’t exactly my cup of tea either, but they do make an interesting contrast to the passion of his lyrics and singing.

  3. Matt Klomp says:

    Very thoughtful review- it’ll definitely be interesting to see how people respond to this record. I don’t so much mind the sampling and production and think it’s a brave step in a new direction for Derek. Just came across this video for “What Matters More” if anyone is interested in seeing it. Check it out here-
    http://www.youtube.com/derekwebb

  4. cubrikaska says:

    Es la frase simplemente incomparable )

  5. Sarahbeth says:

    Check out RELEVANT’s interview with Derek here.

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