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She Shall and Must Go Free
Artist: Derek Webb
Label: Inotof
Length: 11/49:46

I have a wish.  I wish that Inotof Records, the label of Sara Groves, Michael Card, Sonicflood, and now Derek Webb does not go the way of Sprint Records.  I don't want them to get bought by a larger conglomerate, or deal with budget concerns, or go the way of a thousand other promising labels.  I just want them to keep signing and developing artists who release albums even half as good as Groves' All Right Here or Derek Webb's new release, She Shall and Must Go Free.

Webb's first solo effort after leaving Caedmon's Call, the album focuses, in Webb's words, "a record about what Jesus loved - the Church".   He does not shy away from the failings of the Church's inhabitants, pointing them out in "Beloved," an indiction of false prophets; portraying them as an adulterous bride in "Wedding Dress," yet also seeing them from the eyes of Christ in "Lover."

"Nobody Loves Me," very much in the mode of Keith Green lyrically, is the first rack, and grabs the listener by painting a picture of a prophet whose job is to point out sin for what it is:

 The truth is never sexy
 So it's not an easy sell
 You can dress her like the culture
 But she'll shock 'em just as well
"Awake My Soul" is based on Ezekiel 16, and as good an Americana style tune as anything in music today.  "Nothing (Without You)" creates a style of its own, sounding like Mitch McVicker singing the blues.  "Saints and Sinners" combines country twang with blues guitar.  "Crooked Deep Down" rips away our facades, revealing the ugly, inner nature that somehow lurks within us all at times.

"The Church", which features Sara Groves, describes what Rich Mullins called "the reckless, raging fury that they call the Love of God," demonstrating Christ's pursuit of His bride, seemingly without explanation or a good reason:

I have long pursued her
As a harlot and a whore
But she will feast upon me
She will drink and thirst no more
With many quality guests (Jars of Clay, Sandra McCracken) and outstanding songwriting, She Shall and Must Go Free is my early nominee for album of the year.  Webb achieves a rarity in music by producing a superior solo effort to that of his former group's recordings.

Brian A. Smith 22 April 2003 


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