Artist:   Caedmon’s Call
Label:   Essential Records

For all its independent spirit, creative thinking and ability to mobilize a cadre of like-minded fans in its more-than-a-fan-club, The Guild, Caedmon’s Call often follows the simple folk wisdom that, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Although there are numerous indie Guild releases available, Back Home is the band’s fifth major-label release, bringing together the intelligent approach to worship music of last year’s In the Company of Angels: A Call to Worship and the earthy, singer/songwriter sensibility that flows from the 1997 self-titled debut through 2000’s Long Line of Leavers.

Smart songwriting courses through obvious winners like the opening “Only Hope.”  It’s noteworthy that Caedmon’s avoids the trap some praise music falls into--being so heavenly minded that it’s no earthly good.  The vertical and the horizontal lyrics maintain a delicate balance as the band’s fine harmonies weave textured patterns of God’s presence in the sublime and the mundane.

Best here is the percussion-driven “Hands of the Potter,” with its fine use of biblical imagery and honesty in dealing with the human need for God to bring wholeness and peace.  Also good are “Walk With Me”. “Never Gonna Let Go”, and “The High Countries”--an inspired retelling of C.S. LewisThe Great Divorce.

Folk-rock dominates, with subtle keyboards and laidback acoustic guitars, a nice string arrangement on “The Kingdom” for a change of pace and creative use of percussion added to the mix.  Still, the focus stays on vocalists Derek Webb, Cliff and Danielle Young and these thoughtful, theologically astute songs, many of which deserve to find their way into modern worship experiences.

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