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To Kill and Be Killed DVD
Artist: Derek Webb
Label: INO Records
Time: 16 tracks
There is a deeper level to
Derek Webb’s music. It comes through on many of his songs.
It’s a rare combination of honesty and truth. It’s somewhat reminiscent
of Keith Green and Rich Mullins. His words penetrate revealing what
we sometimes miss. The truth strips away illusions, laying hearts
bare. It convicts of sin.
Imagine a band and singer that sounds like a cross between the Ragamuffin Band and Over the Rhine. Picture Rich Mullins' rough honesty melded with Linford Detwiler's lush keyboards and organ. How to Kill and Be Killed, Derek Webb's first DVD as a solo artist manages to do all of these things and more.
The band that played on Webb's most recent recording, I See Things Upside Down, is intact for this concert, and proves that the recording was not a winder of gadgetry and trickery – the sound from the CD is reproduced and improved upon. The Over the Rhine connection should come as no surprise, as Will Sayles appears on drums, and Paul Moak plays everything other the kitchen sink. Cason Cooley (formerly The Normals) plays keyboards. Videographers Jimmy Abegg and Ben Pearson form the Ragamuffin contributions.
Concert highlights are "I Want a Broken Heart," with a spacey intro/outro bridge, a heartfelt rendition of "Reputation" that showcases Cooley on a Hammond B3 that rivals Phil Madeira's works, and "Medication", which rises above its simplistic lyrics with a swelling musical coda that is somewhere between U2 and Radiohead. A few old Caedmon's Call tunes are featured for longtime Webb fans as well.
Webb's trademark is his openness. Like Keith Green and Rich Mullins before him, he reveals a few of his own wounds in song, and the results are both painful to hear and convicting in their honesty. The bonus interview is refreshing as well, as it reveals Webb's convictions in not playing the CCM numbers-driven games. He stresses trying to people Jesus rather than trying to "look like a Christian." He speaks of "Christianese" as a divisive tool, doing more to separate those outside the church from those inside. He is uncompromising regarding Christian art as well, demanding that the church's art be of excellent quality, if it is to be taken seriously by the secular world, and points to the Renaissance, where Christian art took the lead and set the example in music, painting, and sculpture.
How to Kill and Be Killed is for fans of Webb, but also for those looking for truth behind all of the facades and nice appearances that are marketed to the CCM radio audience. The only complaint that I have with the disc is the exclusion of "T-Shirts" from the setlist, a song that dovetails nicely with Webb's sentiments.
Brian A. Smith