Derek Webb - I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry & I Love You
Record Label: Fair Trade Services
Release Date: Sept. 3, 2013
I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry & I Love You, the latest album from iconoclastic singer-songwriter Derek Webb is a strong step forward after a quartet of experimental albums, but still leaves a bit to be desired. Webb, who cites Bob Dylan and hip-hop as his foremost influences, is quick to defend homosexuals and even quicker to dismiss the Christian label that so often hovers over his craft. Having grown up in CCM circles with Texas-based Caedmon's Call, the Nashville-based songwriter has spent more than a decade challenging churches and those following Christ.
I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry& I Love You serves as a sequel of sorts to Webb's lightning rod debut She Must and Shall Go Free. While many of his songs carry the trappings and hallmarks of romance ballads, much of his material is indeed written for the church an churchgoers. Returning to the acoustic-driven approach of his earlier work, I Was Wrong is absolutely sterling in quite a few places and reaffirms Webb's importance in faith-driven music circles.
Album opener and title track "I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry & I Love You" opens with piano and yearning guitars and unravels into an intimate, warm and utterly engaging tour-de-force. Bolstered by a giant chorus and enough conviction to quiet the incessant hum of Nashville, the song is arguably one of his strongest to date and a near-perfect way to start an album that he has gone on record as calling one of his most important.
Lead single "Eye of the Hurricane" is a rising and titanic slice of indie-folk with a bursting radio-ready chorus, a troubadour's ethos and a folksinger's unabashed honesty. The enveloping and hymnal "Lover Part 3," coasts on the bed of an airy organ and unravels a delicate and tender narrative about the depths and distance to which love, and more specifically, Jesus' love, goes. Much like "Eye of the Hurricane," there are parts of the song that feels strangely kin to Of Monsters and Men or Arcade Fire. Twinkling pianos, rustling guitars and a plaintive yearning are the hallmarks here and help catapult "Lover Part 3" forward, cementing its place as one of the album's most affecting orchestrations.
The Brit-inspired verve of "Closer Than You Think" has more of a Mancunian imprint than Nashville and rings with the big-hearted grandeur of Keane or Travis. Searching and large-scale, it has a charisma that rises on repeated listens and points towards Webb's keen eye for both melody and sweep. He lowers the sonic ante on the quiet and pensive "Heavy," a deeply provoking work of limitless appeal and near brilliance. Utilizing just his voice and a guitar, "Heavy" revisits why a decade into his solo career, Webb still remains a major draw and a most important force in faith-driven music.
The first half of I Was Wrong concludes with the soaring, string-laden ballad "Everything Will Change," a strident and sturdy ode to perseverance, fortitude and determination. The homespun "I Measure the Days (Simplified Anglican Chant)" is a folksy and stormy frolic in which Webb duets with his wife Sandra McCracken on a straightforward and deeply poetic meditation on God. While the song in many ways feels out of place and more like a b-side, it does serve as a connecting point between the first half and the back half.
That back half opens with "A Place at Your Table," a jangly and free-spirited meandering that coasts on airy organ, Webb's smooth tenor and an inherent confidence that can only come from two decades in the studio. The hollowed "Nothing But Love" segues into a Beatles-esque orchestration with sweetened strings, a hymnal-like presence and a definitive sense of purpose. Webb has gone on record as noting that the song is about leaving a church and the anxiety that comes with such a decision. That sense of deeper meaning has always permeated Webb's songwriting and is the foremost reason he remains such a huge draw across the country.
"The Vow" is rustling and pliant, a steadfast and sturdy slice of indie-folk that is strident, confident and nothing short of effervescent. Similarly, "Your Heart Breaks in All the Right Places" an utterly gorgeous mostly acoustic ballad in which Webb is out to break the listener's heart with its dedication to beauty, restraint and command. Many struggling songwriters would do wise to give this song a listen and apply it as a lesson/exercise/example. I Was Wrong concludes with "Thy Will Be Done," a lilting and meandering prayer that veers and swivels on the back of Webb's yearning tenor.
Given that I Was Wrong was self-produced and that Webb played almost every instrument on the album, there's little reason to dismiss it as unauthentic and/or uninspired. The problem with I Was Wrong is that leave-it-all-on-the-table efforts like "Eye of the Hurricane" and "Everything Will Change" have few equals. That is to say, other than those two, few if any others make a sizable or resounding dent. Being that Webb's material is deeply pensive and often takes many repeated listens to sink in, there's a chance that months down the line I Was Wrong will make more sense. For now it remains a solid step forward from CTRL and Feedback and in parts even Stockholm Syndrome, but whether it touches the brilliance of the earlier works is still up for debate.
Throughout his career Webb has championed himself a protest singer, a pot-stirrer and an inquisitor and those traits will forever be his calling cards. Having him hover in and around the CCM circles continues to be a positive and as long as he continues to make music, us as an audience can only continue to be grateful.
Great album. Weird to see Ctrl and Stockholme Syndrome criticized though. Both of those albums are brilliant.
I wasn't that negative on Stockholm Syndrome. I reviewed it for this site actually. There were parts of it that were incredible and other parts that were meh. I absolutely LOVED the Sola-Mi record though (also reviewed that here). If the review portrayed me not liking Stockholm Syndrome, than that was my shortcoming.
I could not get into CTRL at all. I like that he was trying to do something different socially (and thematically) but I just couldn't get into it at all. While Stockholm and Sola-Mi were great records, I still prefer his music in an acoustic guitar-based orientation.