Caedmon's Call,
Long Line of Leavers
(Brentwood, 2000)

Caedmon's Call is a Texas-based Christian band, but unless you listen to that genre, you're not likely to know that. There's no information about the band on their website or on the liner notes (as such) or their newest CD Long Line of Leavers. The band members aren't even listed, as if the assumption is that if you know who they are, you don't need any of that information -- probably a fairly safe assumption to make, since the band has a strong following. Still, the lack of information for the uninitiated makes reviewing their CD nothing short of frustrating, especially when I have good things to say.

According to a piece on the Christianity Today website, Caedmon's Call is Cliff Young (vocals, guitar), Derek Webb (vocals, guitar), Danielle Young (vocals), Josh Moore (organ), Garett Buell (percussion), Jeff Miller (bass) and Tony Bragg (drums). Their folk-acoustic rock sound is rich and textured, with polished, tight arrangements that meld the band into cohesiveness without sounding muddy.

While much of the music expresses their Christian faith, there is no overt and bludgeoning gospel message here. Rather, many of the well-written songs contemplate the struggle and confusion attendant on a relationship with God with the clear message that the effort is worthwhile. "The Only One," from which the CD title comes, celebrates God's unconditional love while "Prove Me Wrong" challenges it. "Valleys Fill First" is a powerful song in both message and arrangement; the blend is just about perfect, contemplative and inspiring. "What You Want" is an upbeat song with wry resignation mixed with joy in the verses.

Other stand-out tracks include "Love is Different," a snappy realistic look at how love works, even when it doesn't; "Dance," about an elderly nursing home resident whose soul plans to dance eternally; and "Piece of Glass," an eerie song about eating disorders and body image. Overall, there isn't a track on the CD which lacks appeal.

Lead singer Derek Webb's voice is full and warm and sure, as is that of vocalist Danielle Young. Young's voice ranges from smoky to bell-like, and both Young and Webb handle subtle nuances well. The entire band has good energy, and their dedication to their ministry through their music shows in the high quality of each track.

There are some who will be turned off just by hearing that Caedmon's Call is a Christian band, and doubtless there are Christians who will find the band's theology lacking. For those remaining seekers and sojourners, Christian or not, with an appreciation for good music and challenging, thought-provoking lyrics, pay heed to Caedmon's Call and Long Line of Leavers.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 24 November 2001

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