Originally created 09/22/00

Musical meandering makes Caedmon's Call forgettable



Caedmon's Call - Long Line of Leavers Essential Records

On its third album, Christian folk-popsters Caedmon's Call throws everything but the kitchen sink into the musical mix, which is unfortunate because the kitchen sink probably would have been a more enjoyable listen.

Like an obnoxious winner in a game of trivia, members of Caedmon's Call seem intent on making sure everyone realizes how much they know. "Look," they seem to say, "we can play folk and pop and country and traditional hymns. Aren't we clever?"

Well yeah, that's swell, but how about playing one of those forms of music, just one, with enough passion so as to engage the listener.

Caedmon's Call seems so intent on displaying its genre-hopping prowess that band members neglected to write a single song that stays with the listener after the CD has spun out. A common mistake among bands, this restless, scattershot approach to recording is often justified with catch-phrases like "musical progression" or "explorative music" or "without boundaries," (all of which were used in the Caedmon's Call press kit). A more probable explanation is a lack of musical focus. Previous Caedmon's Call albums have, with varying degrees of success, featured an easy folk sound. It's a style the group has yet to perfect and perhaps one it should spend more time working on. It does no good to branch out when you haven't developed roots.

Lyrically, the band's multiple songwriters seem focused on sending an earnest message of love and faith.

That's fine. It's a noble endeavor, and they are to be commended. A small suggestion, however: People seem to respond better to messages that they are not pummeled with. So much earnest longing and clever analogy is shoehorned into the 13 tracks that the album feels more like a lecture than a musical experience. I half expected a quiz at the album's conclusion.

Most distressing was Ballad of San Francisco, a bluegrass-tinged portrait of a solitary walk in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Musically infectious and deceptively simple, the song demonstrates that this band is capable of great things but has chosen instead to slog down the Mundane Mile with a restless, soulless album that sputters, flares briefly and then disappears without a trace.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or suhles@hotmail.com.