Full disclosure, here: This review is done in exchange for a free download of the album. (Want free books or music? You can often get in on deals like this, too, just for sharing your opinion.) Also, the image here, and the links below are affiliate links, which means if you click & buy through those links, I can by one of my kids a lemon drop or one of those really cool toys that come in a plastic bubble!
The first time I heard Derek Webb was with Caedmon’s Call, and I liked it a lot. I listened to the CD I got in college over and over and over. The disc was lost at some point before the advent of easy ripping, and I liked it enough to go buy another one. Some of the songs I consistently find rolling around in my mind are from that disc. That has nothing to do with my review of CTRL, I just thought you should know!
I really liked the acoustic backhand Webb presented in Mockingbird (and several of the other albums I have of his as well). Consistently smooth & soft with edges that cut to the heart. I love how he doesn’t ever shy away from asking hard questions. I also liked it when he started messing around with electronics… which leads to CTRL.
On CTRL, the acoustic, coffee house sounds are pressed into shape with a lot of electronic tinkering and a choir that sounds like a Bible thumping congregation recorded on location in some backwater frontier town of 1877. This sonic trinity won’t work for everyone. The dissonance probably won’t be met with acclaim by radio jocks anytime soon. Then again, when did Derek Webb aim to fit pop sensibilities? Which is why CTRL fits in well with his other works.
I realize that as far as an actual review of the album, this post is a little short on details. It’s pretty different than what you’ll find on the top 40 shelf, and I like that. You may not. I can’t quite figure out how to review it without sounding like some music critic snob trying to convince you how cultured and smart I am as I point out every little nuance and possible implication of Webb’s creative mix. So I’ll leave it at that. Enjoy…