Derek Webb could hear the backlash even before the album came out. "So, is Derek still a Christian?" he imagined fans asking the other members of Caedmon's Call after listening to the group's latest, Long Line of Leavers.
Its third nationally distributed record, which hit the shelves in October, secures the seven-member group's status as a unique contributor to and stalwart in the circle of Christian music makers. But Webb, as a songwriter, is afraid that the new album may leave listeners wondering whether music stores should stock the album near Steven Curtis Chapman or over by Counting Crows.
From the opening chord of track one, "The Only One," the album provides ample evidence that the band has transcended the boundaries of acoustic-folk, while staying attached to its roots.
Webb and Cliff Young, the Call's other front man, leave their acoustic guitars on the stand for the first song, relying instead on a clean electric strum backed by 17-year-old Josh Moore's haunting Hammond-B3 organ. "We approached each song with the intent to make it the best it could be, rather than make it fit into this folk-acoustic box," drummer Todd Bragg explained. "We've moved forward just enough that you can hear where we're going and still hear where we came from."
Where they're going seems to be a hundred different directions-from folk and lounge jazz to modern rock and 1970s Brit-pop. "The record is both diverse and intimate, just like the band," said percussionist Garett Buell. "You can actually hear every player adding their part."