The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
Instagram

New life in cliche genre

 New life in cliche genre
New life in cliche genre

New life in cliche genre

Contemporary Christian music generally falls into one of two camps. An artist will either mask their religious themes in ambiguity or sing simplistic tunes of all love, faith and devotion to Christ. Fortunately, Derek Webb does neither. The ramifications of religion are explored in all their complexities in a political and social sense. Rather than just vapid lyrics of faith or easy criticism, Webb explores these aspects fairly and insightfully.

Throughout his career, Webb, who was a former member of Caedmon’s Call, has never shied from delivering his vision both musically and lyrically. Taking a cue from the Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour,” Webb has incorporated some sonic effects which he hopes will create “a fascinating record for headphones.” While certainly not as creative as the aforementioned masterpiece, Webb does enough creatively to maintain interest throughout.

Opening strong with “Mockingbird,” Webb immediately delivers on his promise to wow listeners with an initial acoustic crunch, which flows nicely before the song finally kicks in with appropriately interesting layering. The song acts as a nice opener for the message of the album, as well coming across as humble but purposeful. Then the instrumental interlude before the final chorus nicely pushes the song forward and connects it to the next song.

The second song confronts Webb’s own fears about how easy it is to ignore the complexity of the world and simply accept what we’re given. “Don’t teach me about politics and government/just tell me who to vote for/don’t teach me about truth and beauty/just label my music,” Webb croons almost as a reminder to himself not to allow his music to sink into the pitfalls of commerciality or mediocrity. He never does.

Lyrically though is where Webb’s goal comes across most effectively. “I take seriously my role as an artist,” Webb said. “I know it’s a luxury to spend hours on the porch talking about these issues. The point of this record is to give people language enough to get started.” Webb’s goal is not to push buttons, but just to be as honest as he can to try and generate some dialogue, especially within the Christian community.

As lyrics like “I am like a mockingbird/I’ve got no new song to sing/and I am like an amplifier/I just tell you what I’ve heard” show, Webb realizes he’s not saying anything phenomenally new. He is, however, saying something new as far as the Christian music industry is concerned, and that is most certainly a good thing.

Webb is currently engaged with Blood: Water Mission, an organization whose purpose is to raise awareness about the extreme poverty one-sixth of the world’s population currently lives in. He also manages to have time for a regular iTunes Podcast.

Webb’s music is certainly a step in the right direction as far as Christian music is concerned. It manages to be honest about its religious intentions, without resorting to tired praise cliches. Hopefully, Webb will continue to challenge genre conventions while maintaining his strong message.

 

Chris Simpson is a first-year history major and can be reached at [email protected].

 

More to Discover