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One Zero [acoustic]

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Jan
One Zero [acoustic]
Sounds like … stripped down acoustic pop/folk reminiscent of Bob Dylan, Mark Heard, Caedmon's Call, Elliott Smith, and Neil Young.At a glance … drawing from the same songs that established Webb as one of today's top Christian songwriters, these stripped-down versions aren't particularly interesting and the album is unnecessary for fans.Track Listing Mockingbird
Better Than Wine
A King & A Kingdom
Ballad in Plain Red
I Hate Everything (But You)
Wedding Dress
Take to the World
Rich Young Ruler

It just seems unfair that one of today's best Christian songwriters needed to resort to a gimmick for attention. But Derek Webb took a risk last year by temporarily making Mockingbird available for free download, and it successfully translated to increased awareness of his music. Still, you'd hope an artist's great work would be enough to speak for itself.

And that seems to be the underlying point to One Zero [acoustic]. It's Webb and his guitar, completely unadorned except for some basic recording polish, performing stripped-down versions of tracks from his three solo albums. This places the focus squarely on the writing, which is as bold and challenging as you'll find these days. Addressing Christianity in modern culture, the thoughtfully worded songs were great before—and they're still great now.

That said, the album is also rather underwhelming. Webb performs his catalog well, but there's nothing interesting about these simple recordings—no unplugged acoustic jamming, no new interpretations in the arrangements. And three of the ten tracks overlap with Webb's similar sounding live album from 2004, The House Show, which at least benefited from song explanations and audience interaction.

Here's a study in contrast: Webb has simultaneously released One Zero [remix], though it's only available for download through online stores like iTunes and Rhapsody. It's the same songs as on the acoustic project, though produced by Will Hunt—so imagine Webb's tunes mixed to the electronica of Apt.Core. The tracks are more interesting with their sonic experimentation, though some will say it's all over-produced (more so than his I See Things Upside Down album). Conversely, this acoustic project is under-produced, and unless you're a fan who compulsively wants more from Webb or you're one of the 80,000 that downloaded Mockingbird for free, it's unnecessary. Unlike Webb's other more artful albums, One Zero [acoustic] is merely available.

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