Derek Webb stands as one of the most progressive and controversial artists in Christian music today. He deals with topics many musicians would shy away from, and does so unabashedly. Nine months after the release of his last project Mockingbird, Webb did something more unprecedented than he'd ever done before. Mockingbird was made available free for three months at the online site freederekwebb.com as a way to spread Webb's message, and generated 80,000 downloads from 170 countries across the globe.
A month following the end of the free music experiment, Webb releases the acoustic version of One Zero (an alternate "remix" version is available exclusively online to download). Showcasing some of the best songs from all of his previous recordings, Webb proves he has built quite the track record in less than four years as a solo artist.
But with the type of music Webb plays, the idea of an acoustic project may seem strange to some. His music has never been pretentious, always relying on his voice and guitar to carry most of the weight. Consequently, there are times when the music on One Zero is scarcely different from its original recording. And with only ten tracks, it's hard to label this a "best of" album. So, as good as Derek's music may be, the disc almost begs the question, "Why?"
The quality of songwriting is never in question. Webb's lyrics and musical style are often reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens; neither artist hesitates to compose something radically different from the status quo. Webb doesn't sugarcoat his lyrics when comparing himself to an unfaithful bride, ("Wedding Dress") and takes cues from Switchfoot when mocking modern American culture ("Ballad In Plain Red," "Rich Young Ruler").
One Zero is filled with clever, upfront songwriting and some quality guitar picking. Diehard Webb fans may love his music enough to buy an acoustic project that's not drastically different from what they've heard before. As for those who first encountered his music at freederekwebb.com, I doubt they'll be willing to fork over the ten bucks.- Review date: 1/27/07, written by Spencer Priest
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