In the midst of my year of spinning Much Afraid constantly, a friend of mine gave me a cassette for my birthday by a band I’d never heard of. Caedmon’s Call had been around for awhile, but their self-titled label debut was their big step into the mainstream. While Jars of Clay began with a folk rock-ish sound and then took a turn towards pop-rock, Caedmon’s had both feet firmly planted in folk music. Trash-can drums, banjo, organ, multiple vocalists and widely varying thematic material made them quite intriguing.
I remember having the cassette in the car (no CD player there yet) and listening to it a lot while driving. Side A kicked off with “Lead of Love”, a great driving song, and Side B started with a cover of Rich Mullin’s “Hope to Carry On”, another upbeat traveling tune. Then at the end of the B side, you had “Coming Home”, which was was so great to listen to on the road. Listen back to the album and you’ll pick up on a lot more songs that reference traveling. Between all those traveling tunes, you had some other rockers but also some more introspective and melancholy songs like “Center Aisle”.
Between the two main songwriters featured on this album, I gravitated towards the songs of Derek Webb, which I found to be honest and challenging. Some I didn’t really understand (“I Just Don’t Want Coffee”) and some I totally identified with (“Not the Land”). Subsequent albums really solidified my preference for his influence in the band and I haven’t really listened to them much since he struck out on his own solo endeavor.
After listening to this album a lot during the same period as Much Afraid and trying to learn guitar at the same time, I found that this album’s music was much more attainable for me as a musician. The chords were usually straight forward and the folk style was something that came more naturally to me. Therefore, I became a fan of folk music. I sought out other bands that played an acoustic rock style and tried to mimic that in my own playing. This trend continued for the next few years of my life, but it started out with this little cassette.
I’ve since upgraded to the CD version of the album. It’s a solid addition to my collection (with the exception of “Stupid Kid”, which is a terrible song). Caedmon’s has since become a small core with a rotating supporting cast of musicians and songwriters. I’ve not given them much time recently, but Derek Webb’s solo music has really caught my attention and become a favorite.