Its hard to know what to expect from a bands third national release.

Especially if its a band that has also recorded several guild CDs for limited distribution and a 6-year-old independent CD that remains a top-seller on grassroots.com.

So what should you expect from Caedmons Calls latest, Long Line of Leavers?

If youre a fan of Caedmons usual folk-pop style, you wont be disappointed. Songs such as Dance, What You Want, and Cant Lose You fit the guitar-driven acoustic sound thats trademark for a band leading the way in the recent revival of folk music. But theres definitely some musical variety on this album, ranging from the Beatlesque Mistake of My Life to a John Michael Talbot cover, Prepare Ye the Way.

Still its the songwriting that impresses me most about this album. Aaron Tate, the writer of many of Caedmons songs, has a gift for blending theology and music in a way that is seldom heard and much needed. He describes the battle between faith and doubt in lyrics that are fierce in their desperation in Prove Me Wrong: Sometimes I fear maybe Im not chosen/Youve hardened my heart like Pharaoh/That would explain why life is so hard for me Cast out my doubts, please prove me wrong/Cause these demons can be so headstrong. And Derek Webb, one of the bands three lead singers and also a regular songwriter, expresses the paradoxical emotions of love in What You Want: I want you just like a hole in my head/But I need you like a meal and a bed.

Serious Caedmons fans, however, may miss the earthy grassroots feel of earlier albums, as Long Line of Leavers has a distinctly more produced sound. And serious musicians may miss the thematic and stylistic unity of their sophomore release, Forty Acres. Leavers has a lack of continuity that showcases the individuality of each song but sometimes makes the CD play more like a collection than a unified album. Nevertheless, Long Line of Leavers is a strong offering from a band with the talent and potential to be a favorite for a long time to come.