Derek Webb [Stockholm Syndrome]
Posted August 26, 2009
By KevinDavis_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Over two years in the making, Webb co-produced “Stockholm Syndrome”, with former Caedmon’s Call bandmate Josh Moore. “Stockholm Syndrome”, delivers everything listeners have come to expect from Derek Webb: killer pop hooks and lyrics as thought provoking as they are emotionally revealing. Sonically, however, this record is a radical departure for Webb, who has left his acoustic, folk/rock roots behind for a sound he describes as “intentionally inorganic.” “I’ve always loved folk music,” Webb says, “because of its ability to tell the story of the times we’re living live in, in a timeless way. But for me, the best folk music on the scene right now is hip-hop. So with “Stockholm Syndrome”, I wanted to incorporate the more urban and evocative elements of hip-hop.” Webb says he and Moore made the record Gnarls Barkley-style. Webb uses this album as a means of exploring deep issues through the central metaphor of “Stockholm Syndrome”, illuminating the ways in which a society can fall in love with an oppressive culture and become enslaved by it.
After a cool instrumental song called “Opening Credits”, Derek gets right into what he considers the thesis statement of the album with the song “Black Eye”, in essence the title song. According to Derek, “I was looking at the world around me and seeing evidence of Stockholm Syndrome everywhere. All the issues I was having – that my friends were having – that my community was having – were all deeply rooted in our being in love with the ideas and institutions that are holding us hostage. We love these things. We worship them.” The song has a great upbeat style unlike any song I’ve ever heard by Derek and I think he’s bringing up an important theme as Christians, which is how our culture is infatuated with everything that will destroy us. Derek framed the entire album from that perspective. “Cobra Con” is next, with a similar electro-pop musical style and another strong message of out-loving and out-suffering our enemies, the people who seek to do us harm. The tools and the weapons we need to fight back are patience and love.
Rather than address the messages behind each of Derek’s songs, suffice it to say that like all of Derek’s albums, he has social commentary about sensitive topics that most Christian songwriters don’t address such as addressing anti-gay sentiments (“Freddie, Please”), relationships and sexuality (“I Love/Hate You”, “What You Give Up To Get It”) and his usual sarcastic commentary (“Heaven”). To just address the messages song-by-song would be an unfair way to rate this excellent album, the best overall album by Derek Webb in my opinion. Considering that I am a long-time fan of Derek’s back to his Caedmon’s Call days and that “Faith My Eyes”, “Somewhere North”, “Thankful”, “Wedding Dress” and “Lover” are among my favorite songs of all-time, this album was worth the wait. Sonically, this album has everything I look for, musical hooks, great melodies and intelligent lyrics.
One of my favorite sections of the album is the flow from “The State” to “The Proverbial Gun”. Derek kept recording after finishing “The State” and started singing an entire stream of consciousness paragraph that Derek had written which became the song “The Proverbial Gun”, one of my favorite songs on the entire album. Musically it reminds me of the style of “I See Things Upside Down”, with the songs having an intentional flow and musical connection. My other favorite song combination is “Becoming A Slave” and “Jena & Jimmy”. If you like Derek Webb and the musical style of “The Long Fall Back To Earth” by Jars of Clay, I highly recommend “Stockholm Syndrome”.
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