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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
I do have a few complaints, though. First of all, the thirteen songs wander through a fairly wide range of styles, meandering from pop to folk to lounge to a John Michael Talbot cover. This is a weakness in my book, for Caedmon’s Call has yet to fully develop and enrich their original acoustic-folk sound. Secondly, there is a rawness that creeps into Derek Webb’s voice every now and then which certainly needs to be exploited more. This vocal quality, which translates into evocative passion and urgency, is most notable in “What You Want,” the standout track on the album. For the majority of the album, though, Webb’s singing is fairly subdued; this is disappointing, for passion in Christendom these days is always a rare and wonderful thing. It’s also a pity that Danielle Young only sings on two songs, “Masquerade” and “Piece of Glass,” for her voice has matured into a lovely smokiness that should be heard more.
Lyrically, the album covers everything from loneliness, love, creation, and Webb’s grandmother and her fondness of dancing. Aaron Tate and Webb have always had a way with words, a standout quality among the bland homogeneity of most CCM lyrics.
One of the attractions of Caedmon’s Call has always been their organic, hometown feel, a quality which has tended to distance them from the slickness of CCM’s sound. And while Long Line of Leavers preserves that vintage earthiness, Caedmon’s Call should get on that tour bus of their’s and get out of Nashville; the production by Monroe Jones (Third Day, Chris Rice, Margaret Becker) and Ed Cash (Bebo Norman) is almost a little too smooth. Despite that, Long Line of Leavers should satisfy fans and win a few more.
Christopher Bunn 10/9/2000
Long Line of Leavers finds Caedmon's Call both expanding their sound and resting on the laurels of past accomplishment. Regarding the former, the Caedmon clan have gratefully experimented a bit more with a variety of styles, including the funky R&B on the opening track, "The Only One," and the retro-lounge-folk of the Danielle Young lead vocal track "Masquerade," both of which serve as welcome album highlights. There are also additional percussive and production flourishes hither and yon, such as on "Dance," that indicate more of a push toward the Jars of Clay sound.
On the flip side, much of the rest of the material deviates too little in tone and style from the folk pop territory the band has already traversed. Now there's nothing wrong with finding a style and sticking with it, and Caedmon's homey folk pop has been pleasing the masses for years. Regrettably, however, the result this time is that a few too many of these songs are not nearly as inspiring as one would hope. This situation is not helped by an increased slickness in the production that renders the band's sound more like a staple of the CCM scene than the risen wonders of the more organic indie world. Nevertheless, overall Long Line of Leavers retains Caedmon's Call's pleasant flirtation with relevant lyrics awash in an inoffensive middle-of-the-road sound that will undoubtedly continue to secure their popularity from college campuses to CCM radio coast to coast.
Steven Stuart Baldwin 10/24/00