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40 ACRES (1999)
40 Acres - Click to view!Ineffable: too great to be described in words.
Any problems I had with Caedmon's debut have hereby departed on the acoustically expressed sophomore masterpiece 40 Acres. Finding hope in redemption, grace and honesty, the seven-member band ponder and communicate truth in a new vein of full, acoustic, living sound. It's all so unique and different, it's hard to describe; the first single sees God working when we fail with a questioning wonder, "There You go ~ Working good from my bad." The intensity of "Thankful" and "Daring Starlight Escape" nearly hit the country music pothole, but it's easy to miss with the cuts' real lyrical concepts: "I'm so thankful that I'm incapable ~ Of doing any good on my own." "Caught a boat to anywhere but Nineveh ~ And, well, you know, I got spit back on dry land," relates songwriter Aaron Tate as the band takes off on a full-force, electric driven journey to "Where I Began." Some people find something confusing or disjointed about having three lead singers (Derek Webb, Cliff Young and Danielle Young) and two songwriters (Webb and Aaron Tate)--contrary to these reviewers, I find this give CC a genuine, diverse unity in their language and approach in songs. On "Shifting Sand," about out sand-castle faith failing to God's grace, and the Shawn Colvin cover "Climb On," about giving up on being strong on our own, Danielle Young's soaring voice make these tracks high points in 40 Acres' and make you wish she sang lead more often. Intellectual pride results is a "Petrified Heart" afraid of love, until a cry to "Strike this rock with Your rod ~ 'Til Your living water begins to flow" rises from the depths of the soul. Natural conversation in "Table for Two" struggles with pancakes, soccer and loneliness, all summed up in the closing line "You know the plans You have for me ~ And You can't plan the ends and not plan the means." Each delivered in the same spirit of tender awareness as the other, "Somewhere North" strains to hear God's direction and "Faith My Eyes" trusts in belief and grace to keep me responsible with both light and heavy loads, as God keeps me guessing with these blessings in disguise. I've quoted a lot of lyrics here, and it's because no other album in recent memory hit me so directly with its perspective and closeness. "I'm thinking this view could do you some good," says the title track, as it speaks metamorphically of plow blades turning the ground, a unique angle on the new hope of forgiveness and redemption. Moving past the sometimes immature and abstract musings of their debut, Caedmon's Call have recorded an informal, pure perspective of God's ineffable mercy with a truly original college-based acoustic sound.
- Josh M. Shepherd
May 1999
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