Although he works out of the contemporary Christian pop genre, singer/songwriter and guitarist Derek Webb has an agitator’s soul and a flair for the controversial, approaches he uses in his music to force careful thought on vitally important issues. Born on May 27, 1974, in Memphis, TN, Webb attended high school in Texas, and was one of the founding members of the Houston-based Christian pop group Caedmon’s Call when they formed in 1993, and he remained with the group through several albums before leaving to go solo in 2003. Webb has seen career sales approaching 1 million records, along with 10 GMA Dove Award nominations and three Dove Award wins and six No. 1 Christian radio hits.
His first solo project, She Must and Shall Go Free, released that same year, demonstrated Webb’s refreshingly maverick and uncompromising approach to Christian music, and the album drew a lot of critical attention, both pro and con. A sophomore effort, I See Things Upside Down, followed in 2004, along with a live album, The House Show. The impressive Mockingbird surfaced in 2005, along with the concert DVD How to Kill and Be Killed. In 2007 Webb released matching collections of some of his early songs, One Zero (Acoustic) and One Zero (Remix), along with a highly anticipated fourth studio project called The Ringing Bell. Stockholm Syndrome appeared in 2009. Married to fellow singer/songwriter Sandra McCracken, Webb currently makes his home in Nashville.
Look at the world and describe it. That’s an artist’s job description according to singer/songwriter/agitator Derek Webb, and he takes his job very seriously. Over his almost alarmingly long career, he has risked everything year after year to do that job. While Webb is most identified with his provocative & fearless writing style (to say nothing of his production style, which has zigged & zagged with almost every album), in more recent years his description of the world has done more to comfort the afflicted than his typical M.O. of afflicting the comfortable.
The release of 2017’s Fingers Crossed, a self-described ‘tale of two divorces’ documenting both the end of a marriage & the deconstruction of his Christian beliefs, put Webb firmly in the ranks of friends like David Bazan (Pedro The Lion), penning hymns of deconversion & doubt. The Fingers Crossed tour, like the album, was a vulnerably quiet & intimate affair with nearly all the shows in fan’s living rooms, processing their collective grief over their loss of faith like pop-up house churches.
“There’s a great relief and personal satisfaction that comes with finding the end of your grief around a particular season, when you’ve really put in the time and learned all you could and come out on the other side,” Webb recalls. “I was suddenly feeling a completely different energy, seeing new colors when I looked at the world. TARGETS, Webb’s newest album, is the soundtrack for the world as I see it and wish to see it. It’s a defiantly joyous rock & roll album about love and unbelief and everything you find on the other side of grief.”
And defiantly joyous is precisely what TARGETS is. Clocking in at a swift 37 minutes, this 9 song barn-burner is about finding everything he lost on the Fingers Crossed LP. New love, unexpected strength, hope for the future. It’s all there, dressed up in equally raw & sophisticated live, full-band arrangements. TARGETS is the sound of a man who is road-wise and yet full of hope, redefining himself yet again in the middle of his third decade of work in the indie music space. If this is the ‘soundtrack for the world as (He)… wishes to see it,’ 2020 is shaping up to be a very, very good year.