185. She Must and Shall Go Free – Derek Webb
SHE MUST AND SHALL GO FREE (2003)
Derek Webb is hands down one of the best songwriters in the history of Christian Music and possibly currently the finest at his craft. He should be put in the same breath as Mark Heard, Bruce Cockburn, Terry Scott Taylor, Larry Norman and Michael Roe. The evidence for this assertion is found not only on many early Caedmons Call albums, but most notably here on this amazing album.
Initially controversial, She Must and Shall Go Free, is now tame in comparison to some of his more recent works. Never one to hide his beliefs or edit his tongue (pen), SMASGF delivers an actually lovingly appreciative tome for the Body of Christ wrapped in a biting, at time scathing rebuke of her sins and excesses.
Carried by a folk, country, Americana musical soundscape these 11 songs are both prophetic and exhortive. Written from a decided Reformed perspective with an appreciation for the church (things apparently have changed for him), these songs rebuke the falsities that pass for true worship and praise that which recognizes that the Church is still the Body of Christ and His bride. This theme is threaded in and through every single song.
The concept of the Church as a “Lover” or a “Bride” is difficult for many to handle especially in light of the Biblical truths that are attached to these “types.” This leads to many uncomfortable expressions and some “harsh” or “vulgar” words that caused many stores to refuse to support the album. Fortunately for Webb, he had truth and the scriptures on his side.
Terms like “whore” and typology like the sexuality attached to the “lover” references in Scripture causes many to squirm, but the reality remains. No song epitomizes this typology quite like “Wedding Dress.” Written from the perspective of Jesus the Bride is seen sometimes acting the whore and soiling her dress with the sins of this world while rushing to the altar for convenient forgiveness.
Reformed themes of depravity, grace, atonement and election are all peeled back to reveal the Biblical truths supporting them. But these themes are couched in troubling and uncomfortable experiences. That along with some brilliant musical accompaniment makes for one spectacular album. Even as I type this I wonder if in 10 years this album might find itself in the Top 50 or 25. It’s lasting truths may just dictate it to be so.
Let the “it should be higher” responses begin. But I’m OK with that. I may even agree.