Following the release of his powerful solo debut She Must and Shall Go Free, comes the next solo venture from one of Christian music’s most prophetic voices. Derek Webb has returned with an equally impressive offering, I See Things Upside Down, to be released November 9, 2004 on INO Records.
I See Things Upside Down is a record that’s true to its name from start to finish by one of the co-founders of Caedmon’s Call. Unlike She Must and Shall Go Free, this project is not a concept record but does have a predominant theme. I See Things Upside Down explores the topic of value and what it looks like in different aspects of faith and culture, but not always from the most obvious angle. The theme of value is traced not only through issues of the Church and culture but more personally through stories and relationships.
“What are the things that we American Christians value in our culture and how is that different and often ‘upside down’ from true Kingdom values? I’ve found that often success looks more like failure, riches more like poverty, and that real life often feels more like death,” says Derek Webb.
In addition to challenging us to look at our values, Derek was motivated to simply make a great record that would engage culture through its musicality. “I tried hard to make a record that I believe is good art. Since the Renaissance, the church has been short on good art and long on mediocre but explicit art. My hope is to make a quality record in order to respectfully engage culture,” Derek explains. The final product is an artistically ambitious record that challenges our ideas on what has, and gives us value.
The unique sound of the record comes from an uncommon recording style. The arrangements were built around intimate acoustic guitar and vocal performances recorded in the back bedroom of Derek’s house. Those simple and honest performances were then brought into the studio and perfected by Kenny Meeks on guitar (whose influence can be heard predominantly on She Must and Shall Go Free), Paul Moak and Will Sayles respectively on guitar and drums (Over The Rhine, Griffin House), Cason Cooley on piano and organs (The Normals), and veteran Matt Pierson on bass (who also played on She Must and Shall Go Free).
Derek led the production of this album, although he credits the gifts of his band and engineers as additional production support. “I produced the new record, but you could say all of us produced it. My band on this record was made up of such strong artists there was almost no need for a producer. We just went in and trusted our instincts,” said Derek.
As with She Must and Shall Go Free, Derek penned a majority of the cuts on this record. He relied on his personal experiences and observations to provide inspiration. According to Derek, I See Things Upside Down is made up of “12 musical snap-shots of the last two years of my life.” Although two songs on this album were not written by Derek, they were songs he felt a strong tie to. “We Come To You” was written by friend and songwriting partner from Caedmon’s Call, Aaron Tate. The other song was a collaboration of sorts. The lyrics for “The Strong, The Tempted and The Weak” were written by John Kent, a hymn writer from the 19th century. Derek added an updated melody to better fit his style.
INO Records Founder & President Jeff Moseley is not surprised at the remarkable music Derek is creating as a solo artist. “I think Derek is one of the most provocative artists in music today, no matter the genre,” he comments. “Great music must be enjoyable, elicit passion, and at times even incite controversy. I think Derek has done all three on this record in a way that makes us all examine the inner man in a world that emulates artifice.”
Derek will be spending much of this fall touring the country performing mainly in colleges and churches to help promote I See Things Upside Down. Shifting gears from playing intimate settings such as small churches and even living rooms supporting She Must and Shall Go Free and resulting in the brilliant, live record The House Show, Derek is looking forward to hitting the road again backed by a full band.