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Nick Webber, 'All the Nothing I Know '
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Nick Webber
All the Nothing I Know

Street Date: March 7, 2023
Style: Indie Folk
Buy It: AmazonMP3
Buy It: iTunes



On his album, All the Nothing I Know, singer-songwriter Nick Webber isn't afraid to be musically and emotionally raw. The tracks play out more like journal entries set to stripped-down, sometimes lo-fi arrangements, which span the gamut from coffeehouse to emo. Highlights include "Ghost Variations," "Of Certain Doubts" and "Parabola."

The opener, "Ghost Variations," starts with a gentle, folksy vibe before switching gears to moody and ethereal. All the while, Webber's honest lyrics set a tone of doubt and confusion as he sings, "God, I've forgotten how to pray. / I don't know how to talk to you / and at the end of the day / maybe I just don't want to." He leans even more into his anxieties about God in the second section, when he says, "Weeping, Trembling. / People say you speak. / Do you have something you would like to say to me? / Read your black book / saw words drip with red. / Maybe I mistook you for someone in my head." This is Psalm-level honesty with God that mainstream Christian music would rather not touch. Of course, doubts can be taken to an unhealthy extreme when people raised as Christians deconstruct everything they've been taught. But if these types of lyrics are viewed as journal entries, they are easier to take with a grain of salt, compared to artists posting grandiose anti-Christian statements on social media.

"Of Certain Doubts" also picks up on this theme, though with more emphasis on metaphors: "Overwhelmed on Ash Wednesday / seven miles to the front of the room. / I'm empty, I'm the burned-over district. / Nothing left for the flame to consume." Interestingly, Ash Wednesday is used as a way to describe how depleted he feels. His inner turmoil may or may not have coincided with the beginning of Lent, but it's definitely an accurate description of his brokenness and repentance as he continues, "God, I wring my filthy hands. / Wash them until they bleed." The most jarring aspect of this track, however, isn't the dramatic imagery, but the choice to use auto-tune in an otherwise sparse and somber song. It strongly reminds me of "Empty House" by Reliant K, where Matt Thiessen's processed vocals seem at odds with the acoustic guitar. In Nick Webber's case, it makes more sense, because the artificial break in his voice heightens the empty, broken mood of the lyrics.

"Parabola" continues the album's mournful tone with the striking lines, "Oh, to feel grounded again. / Oh, to feel anything at all. / When the sower plants his scattered seed, did you determine its fall? / Some fell on fertile soil, / Some were choked by the thorns. / As for me, I often wonder why you ever let me be born." Taken by itself, that last line might sound ridiculously emo, though Webber uses it to ask the question we all have asked at some point: "Why did God make me the way I am?" In addition to the previous line, "Parabola" has perhaps the most discouraging lyrics of the entire album, as he rails at God, "Take it in / the hurt, the sin / 2,000 years of bastardizing, / what you call 'The Words of Life.' Whatever helps you sleep at night." (Trust me, it's much more scathing when Webber sings it.) Lines like these would have made me feel really guilty as a teenager. Then again, Psalm 88 also made me squirm. These are the thoughts of a man wrestling with God and unbelief as he sings in the final chorus, "Fake your faith / forsake the love you first claimed. Your face has changed. / You're drowning in the hell that you made. / Will you ever make it back?" Vocally, this song is the most earnest. Webber puts everything he has into the final chorus, making it reminiscent of 2000s emo.

Although the album is solid overall, the energy drops off sharply after "Parabola." A notable exception to this is the title track, with its super chill vibe giving way to a shoegaze-like mixture of wispy vocals, distorted guitars and pounding drums. Meanwhile, the album's theme of disillusionment echoes throughout the bridge: "When the brittle breaks / and the passion goes, / what on earth do I do / with all the nothing I know?"

Even though the second half loses some momentum with a string of mellow songs, All the Nothing I Know is an inventive, thought-provoking album. It's one of those rare albums where an artist writes for himself, instead of trying to jump on the latest trend. Maybe that's why I've gravitated toward reviewing indie releases. At least to my ear, much of mainstream Christian music seems copied and pasted from whatever is popular at the time, and many artists don't feel what they're singing. But, for those like Nick Webber, that couldn't be farther from the truth.

- Review date: 11/6/23, written by Andie Hardee of Jesusfreakhideout.com



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JFH Indie Spotlight Review . Record Label: None
. Album length: 10 tracks: 48 minutes, 7 seconds
. Street Date: March 7, 2023
. Buy It: AmazonMP3
. Buy It: iTunes

  1. Ghost Variations (5:38)
  2. So Close (5:49)
  3. Night Terror (5:01)
  4. Of Certain Doubts (3:37)
  5. Parabola (3:43)
  6. Longway (4:59)
  7. I Tried to Warn You (4:08)
  8. 25 (3:33)
  9. All the Nothing I Know (5:58)
  10. Revelation (5:42)

 

 

 

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