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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Derek Webb -- She Must and Shall Go Free

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8/10

After a successful songwriting career with the band Caedmon's Call, Derek Webb ventures out alone with She Must and Shall Go Free. Webb states in the album's first track that he's "a dangerous crusader.," which could sound arrogant, but states immediately afterward, "because I need to tell the truth/So I'm turning over tables/within my own living room." Webb's "living room" in this case is the church itself, an organization Webb is critical of, but also loves and is a part of. This makes all the difference in the tone of She Must and Shall Go Free, as Webb never points a finger without pointing a couple back at himself.
She Must and Shall Go Free's music is in a similar vein to the folky, mostly acoustic rock Webb brought to Caedmon's Call's table. The album features some really powerful work, and only stumbles on a few folk-stomp/swamp-stomp numbers that don't quite fit ("Nothing (Without You)," "Crooked Deep Down"). I get the attempt to lighten the tone of the album, but I feel like uptempo songs more akin to the rest of the album's material would have worked better. Other than that, She Must and Shall Go Free is quite strong, particularly the title-track, a duet with Webb's wife, Sandra McCracken. McCracken pops up on several of She Must's songs, and she and Webb sound lovely together. Dan Haseltine and the rest of Jars of Clay also make some appearances and are nice fits for Webb's sound, as well.
Without a doubt, though, the album's most powerful track is "Wedding Dress," featuring Webb alone. It takes the "church as the bride" and book of Hosea themes of the album to a very personal, honest, and emotional place, and it pulls no punches.

Overall, She Must and Shall Go Free proves that Webb is just as potent solo as he is as part of an ensemble. It is the sound of a talented artist exploring a topic he is passionate about, and it is an unquestionable success.

2003 INO Records
1. Nobody Loves Me 4:22
2. She Must and Shall Go Free 3:46
3. Take To The World 4:04
4. Nothing (Without You) 2:51
5. Lover 4:35
6. Wedding Dress 5:22
7. Awake My Soul 4:18
8. Saint and Sinner 4:37
9. Beloved 6:42
10. Crooked Deep Down 3:30
11. The Church 6:45

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