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CD Review: Derek Webb's 'Stockholm Syndrome'

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Friday, September 25, 2009

DEREK WEBB

"Stockholm Syndrome"

Kindred spirits: David Crowder Band, Bruce Cockburn, Beck

Show: Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. at Jammin Java. 703-255-1566. http://www.jamminjava.com.

Although sparking controversy is not the least of Derek Webb's talents, what really stands out about his new CD, "Stockholm Syndrome," aren't the barbed lyrics . It's the music, a curious melange of pop sounds influenced by everything from vintage soul grooves to trippy techno/hip-hop washes.

Webb, a former member of the Christian pop band Caedmon's Call who was bred on acoustic folk, has no trouble speaking his mind. Just ask Fred Phelps, the Kansas pastor and anti-gay protester. On "Freddie, Please," over a loping R&B groove, Webb croons: "How could you do this to me, how could you tell me you love me when you hate me, Freddie please." Clearly Webb is not only eager to distance himself from some folks who are Christians, he's willing to sacrifice a lot of Christian radio airplay in the bargain.

Mind you, not every song holds up, but generally the more passionate and pointed the lyric, the better. A notable exception is "Heaven," a peculiar ballad that weds a spiritual theme to a dreamy orchestration.

As for Webb's new sonic stance, while it may not be as provocative as some of his lyrics, it's playfully refreshing just the same. In fact, listening to him implement and tweak the diverse sounds he has soaked up over the years is the album's biggest payoff.

-- Mike Joyce


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