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Derek Webb’s worship album – FEEDBACK (an atheist’s perspective)

2nd Nov 10 (Tue) 11 comments

So, overnight (midnight CST), Derek Webb put out his new album Feedback.  I’ve been a fan of Derek Webb since I first got into his band Caedmon’s Call back in 1996.  They’re a christian band… and I’ve since “left the church,” as it were.  I mentioned this in my review of his show in Portland this past spring… even as an atheist, I find his music to be well conceived and well executed.  He’s not a discriminatingly judgmental person.  If he writes a judging lyric, it’s usually full of fingers a-blazin’ at himself first.

He also tackles many issues that I think are relevant and important to everyone (not just christians).  “What Matters More” from 2009’s Stockholm Syndrome is one of my most favorite songs he’s put out (that album was stellar all around)…

Anyway… back to his new album FeedbackFeedback is a self-proclaimed “worship album.”  I first heard about that moniker and was worried.  I mean, what does an atheist desire to hear in a “worship” album?  Not much, that’s what. I’ve heard many since leaving the church (Jars of Clay, Leigh Nash from Sixpence, other miscellaneous compilations with Derek and/or Caedmon’s Call), and… no offense is meant when I say this, but they really make me cringe.  It’s the “subject matter,” and I know it’s not intended for me… so I move on.  No harm, no foul.


Well,when I found out it was an instrumental worship album, well, again… no offense is meant, but it made me really happy.  I’ve listened to the album in full by now (10pm PST on Nov 1st is midnight CST on Nov 2nd), and I dig it.  It’s an “instrumental album based on the Lord’s Prayer.”

Worship is a complicated idea. Arguably, it’s what we all do, 24 hours a day (regardless of what we’re worshipping). And I’m aware of a lot of “worship product” in the marketplace I sometimes occupy. So I was cautious when I first started receiving the coordinates that would lead me to make ‘Feedback’. It was immediately conceptual and ambitious, so much so that I genuinely wasn’t sure I could do it. But this seemed to be the perfect posture in which to create something worthy of being called a “worshipful” piece of art. So I studied, meditated, struggled and prayed my way through this creative process, and it’s easily the most challenging thing I’ve done in my career. But I believe it’s been worth it, even just for the ways it’s stretched both my creative process and my faith as a follower of the Way. –Derek Webb

I could definitely see this being created (and used by listeners) in a worshipful manner.  I also love the general aesthetics of it.  It’s definitely got some electronic elements, but it has a more sweeping feel as well.  Some of it feels like a mix of a happier ambiance of Amiina/Sigur Rós meets an acoustic-electronic bridge in a Sufjan Stevens song meets a gentle Ric Hordinski lyrical guitar solo (I am in a Monk mood).  It’s a great quality instrumental album from a man who I loved via his witty voice from the get go.  It’s nice to see him expand outside his comfort zone.

While I don’t want to make a big deal about the christian and atheist thing… the slant of the record’s purpose (worship) makes me look at it from that angle.  I don’t think it needs to be that way.  But in the way the album is framed from a songwriting, production, and marketing point of view… yes, I definitely see this album as a conduit for worship.  As an atheist, I take it as a conduit into introspection and the worship of the divine as I see it – music.

Here’s a trailer for the short films that accompany the album:

Find out more at:
http://www.derekwebb.com/

Oh, today is also November 2nd – aka Election Day.  Regardless of who you vote for… don’t forget to do just that… VOTE.  It’s important.

~Dan – np: Monk (Ric Hordinski) – Quiver

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REVIEW: Derek Webb & Jennifer Knapp @ Aladdin (Portland, OR – 4/27/10)

28th Apr 10 (Wed) 11 comments

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

There’s something about songwriters that draw me in.  With Derek Webb, I’ve been a long time fan since 1996… ever since first seeing him with his folksy-poppy band Caedmon’s Call.  While I dug Caedmon’s a lot as a group, I really enjoyed Derek’s songwriting the most.  He seemed to have the more “real life” songs – ones I could relate to the most.  His initial departure from the band went OK with me, as he kept making solo music… starting out in the traditional acoustic and then morphing into more rock and even electronic-infused meets acoustic.  His last album, 2009’s Stockholm Syndrome, was one of my favorites from last year (#3 to be exact).

Stockholm Syndrome fuses some great keys & beats from fellow Caedmon’s Call member Joshua Moore with Derek’s solid songwriting.  Lyrically, Derek tackles many issues that I think are relevant and important to everyone (not just christians) – including, but not limited to, addressing Fred “God Hates F-gs” Phelps from the hate-mongering Westboro Baptist Church (“Freddie Please”) to one-side of a superficial relationship with a club beat (“Jena & Jimmy”) to the conflict of a walk of faith and easier route living in the world at large (at least, that’s my take on “The Spirit Vs. The Kick Drum”) to the seemingly-singling out of homosexuality in the church as a major sin (What Matters More).

“What Matters More” is a song that resonates with me, as it is a big part of why I eventually left the church.  The church’s singling out of one sin over another really hit me as hypocritical, legalistic, and not loving.  If this was the god that the bible talked about, I didn’t want to be part of this disease.  If this wasn’t god’s view, then I didn’t want to be part of this group of “believers.”  Regardless of my personal road that led to a lack of faith and becoming an atheist, I still hold Derek’s music closely, as I think of any christian artist, he seems to “get it.”

Derek going out on tour with Jennifer Knapp ended up being a perfect match (she just “came out” as being in a long-term, committed same-sex relationship).  This isn’t shocking to me, and I wish it didn’t even have to be mentioned.  Why is someone’s sexuality any of our business? I suppose that in this day and age, especially coming from a christian musician, this “coming out” has to occur to set the record straight that there is nothing wrong with this.  I’m happy that she was finally comfortable coming back into making music, touring and coming out to be true to herself.  I didn’t know much of her music prior to this show (though she was on my radar back when I was a music buyer at a christian bookstore in the Midwest), but I was equally excited to see her play alongside Derek.

Amy Courts opened the show right at 8pm.  She only played about 3 songs, but had a lot of banter (she was up there about 20 minutes).  Her banter was quite adorable, and her songs were in a similar acoustic singer-songwriter vein to both Webb & Knapp.  Amy had a gentler song in the middle, but her opener and closer showed off her powerful voice.  Definitely a good warm up…

Derek Webb went on immediately after Amy.  I guess with a bunch of acoustic guitars and no backing bands, it’s easy to stack the artists right after one another.

Prior to the show, I wasn’t sure how the Stockholm Syndrome songs would translate to solo acoustic, and according to Derek – he can only play about half of them on a solo tour.  With that being said, he played a good mix of older tunes, newer tunes, and even a brand new Caedmon’s Call song…

Derek’s Setlist: about 50 mins

  • Heaven
  • A Love That’s Stronger Than Our Fear
  • New Law
  • My Enemies Are Men Like Me
  • Freddie, Please
  • Nobody Loves Me
  • God’s Home Town (new Caedmon’s Call song)
  • Wedding Dress
  • What Matters More
  • American Flag Umbrella

My favorites from his set were the last three, but I enjoyed his set throughout.  Derek was fighting some form of sickness, which contributed a little bit to his normal raspiness (which I love).  Hopefully he’ll come by soon and be able to be more talkative, as that’s usually where things get interesting. :)

After a short 10-minute break, Jennifer Knapp hit the stage.  As mentioned previously, I was not too familiar with her music, but I did recognize one of the tunes early on from my old christian bookstore days – “Whole Again.”  I also recognized “Dive In” from her webpage.  She definitely had a powerful voice and stage presence.  I can totally see her draw… she’s a great performer and has some vocal and guitar chops.

Some of her songs were a bit too “christianeze” for my tastes.  Though, she is decidedly less CCM-y than most, and I can definitely appreciate that. :)  One funny moment (to me) was her describing how “such and such” song was written a while ago but never put on a record because it didn’t have the right mentioning of “Jesus” and wasn’t as religious, etc – but to me, it definitely seemed religious… I mean, why do christians many times think that songs aren’t religious if they don’t use “god” or Jesus’ name directly?  This song’s mentioning being “in need of mercy” (among other things) definitely had a religious bent, if you ask me.  Anyway, christians’ perceptions of christian songs gets a chuckle out of me.  That’s all.  She is enough of a cross-over lyricist where I think she’ll do fine on the Lilith Fair circuit… she’s a powerful woman musician warrior.

I enjoyed just under an hour of Jennifer’s set before heading out back home to Eugene.  I did catch a few songs with Amy Court joining her, and I’m sure Derek joined her later in the set (as he has done in the past).  All in all, I thought it was an A+ triple singer-songwriter bill.  If you have any thoughts on Jennifer’s set or if you have her setlist, please post in the comments.

This was one of the last shows featuring both Derek & Jennifer.  Derek Webb will likely be more involved in the Caedmon’s Call album wrap-up in the coming months (I’m hoping they tour with Derek).  Jennifer Knapp will be on the Lilith Fair tour in 2010 alongside many other great artists.  I’d highly (HIGHLY) recommend Derek’s latest album, Stockholm Syndrome.  Also, check out Jennifer’s album, Letting Go, when it drops on May 11th…

many more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Erin McKeownHundreds of Lions

AMY COURTS, DEREK WEBB
& JENNIFER KNAPP PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2010 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Holy F**k in-studio & Derek Webb news

11th Dec 08 (Thu) 10 comments

It’s not that I intend to bring together two disparate artists for my music news post.  I mean, I surely do love it… but it’s usually just a function of me liking way too much music, and news comes in to me in spurts that are as controllable as a trying to plug the holes in a colander.  This post is brought to you by a foul-named (but primarily instrumental) Canadian electronic band that totally pwns (Holy Fuck) and a contemporary Christian artist for whom I still have a lot of respect despite philosophical differences (Derek Webb).

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Holy Fuck first… needless to say, Holy Fuck is in the list of artists that whenever I hear news about them… up it goes.  They’ve been an obsession since late ‘05 / early ‘06, and they just keep gettin’ better.  They make what’s best referred to as “live electronic” music.  They’ve got a 23 minute in-studio performance on UK’s Channel M.  Due to WordPress video posting capabilities, I am unable to do the streaming thing (it only seems to work for me for YouTube).  So, click the picture to be taken to Channel M’s website:

>> Holy Fuck – In Session on Channel M <<

They play The Pulse, Royal Gregory, Frenchy’s, interview segment, Super Inuit, and Lovely Allen.

Holy Fuck’s albums are rad, instrumental grooves of deliciousness – – two self-titled LPs, along with a self-titled EP.  The 2nd self-titled album is the best, IMO.  You can pick it up from the Beggars Group (USA) or Young Turks (UK).  They’ve also got some split 12″ vinyl.  One last year with the band Celebration (no longer available), and one this year with Foals where they each cover the others track (it’s on vinyl – but you can DL the mp3s here).  You can also check Holy Fuck out on the MySpaces.

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Derek Webb, formerly of the folky / hip-with-the-college crowd CCM septet Caedmon’s Call, has continued to make compelling music (which is the opposite that Caedmon’s Call has done without him, IMO).  Anyway, per a recent emailing, he’s working on his follow-up to The Ringing Bell.

He’s collaborating with long time friend and former Caedmon’s Call bandmate Josh Moore on what is rumored to be a more experimental, electronic album.  Teasing with programmed and decidedly more ‘inorganic’ elements, the album called Stockholm Syndrome is shaping up to be Derek’s “most ambitious album to date.”

We shall see.  It’s expected out by May 2009.  More info on Derek at derekwebb.com.

Dan – np: NIИThe Slip

nine inch nails / NIN

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