The Ringing Bell

I’ve got to admit, Derek Webb nearly lost me.

Sure, I was on board when he left Caedmon’s Call and produced She Must And Shall Go Free, an album with a very important message to the church. Then came I See Things Upside Down and while I liked the album, I was disappointed with the production. (The live DVD that came out about six months later showed what the songs could sound like if allowed to let their wings unfurl.) However, when Mockingbird came out, it just didn’t connect with me. I have to confess, I didn’t enjoy the CD.

I’ve always enjoyed Derek’s more personal songs, going all the way back to stuff like “Just Don’t Want Coffee” and “Somewhere North of Here”, but Mockingbird seemed to have a lot less songs about Derek and more songs about political and social commentary. Worse yet, alongside lyrics that were hard to swallow, the melodies just didn’t interest me. Combine the two and well, I just found myself not enjoying the CD very much.

All is forgiven however, with Derek’s new short pop-laden CD, The Ringing Bell. Sure, Derek is still tackling political and social issues with songs like “A Savior On Capitol Hill”, “I For And I”, and “A Love That’s Stronger Than Our Fear”, but the lyrics seems less pointed. Furthermore, Derek has let us back into his personal life with charming songs like “I Wanna Marry You All Over Again” and “Can’t Be Without You.” Best of all, he’s freely wearing his Beatles influences on his sleeve with lush instrumentation and catchy hooks surrounding short pop songs. Every songs seems a short treat to be enjoyed rather than endured.

Knowing that Derek and his wife, Sandra McCracken, are expecting the birth of their first child soon and placing that context over the whole album, I feel like I can identify with Derek more. I’m glad to be enjoying his music again. Now, with the news that he will be re-joining his old friends at Caedmon’s Call again, we should have even more material to enjoy from him soon, also.

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