We welcome back special guest writer Danielle Lee Aderholdt (of 7Ball fame) to tell us why Caedmon's Call is THE band to look out for in '97.

Derek Webb had better watch out. I can name more than just a handful of my fellow Christian music industry-types who will hear what he has to say about their business and be quick to blacklist him and his band as being too "uppity."

Webb, the 22-year-old lead guitarist/vocalist of Caedmon's Call, whose Warner Alliance debut hit stores on March 25th, spoke to me from his Houston, Texas, home about why his band doesn't want to be associated with the monster known as contemporary Christian music.

"I don't think we're called to be separated from the world," he said emphatically. "You can't be salt and light in a world you're not a part of. Some Christians wouldn't know what to say to a non-Christian. Non-Christians need a relationship with somebody who will talk to them.

"Most Christian music is geared to Christians," he added. "I'd like to see a non-Christian listen to Christian radio because it's cool. Not gonna happen."

Caedmon's Call takes a "from the bottom up" approach to their job, their ministry. Formed several years ago by a group of friends, Caedmon's Call has built up an impressive following on the college circuit.

As a result of relentless touring in churches, coffeehouses and such campuses as Duke and Clemson, their first two albums-both independent releases-have sold a combined total of over 37,000 units.

Caedmon's Call is a grassroots effort, and their fans are dedicated college students committed to spreading the word about this upstart young band with the decidedly unique sound.

"We are a folk band," Webb said, "and we write our songs from a Christian perspective. All we can do is go out intending to disciple our peers. And the rest is God's deal."

Produced by Don McCollister (Indigo Girls, R.E.M.), the label debut release by Caedmon's Call is a delightful mix of what popular music needs more of: the rich, warm harmonies of "This World," the jangly walk of "Bus Driver," the get-up-and-rock sound of "Not the Land" and the stripped emotions of "Center Aisle."

With enough tremendously pretty melodies and thoughtful lyrics to start a folk revolution in the CCM industry, this album offers music reminiscent of Jackopierce, Jack Ingram, Jars of Clay, and more than just a little of the aforementioned Indigo Girls.

The first single, "Lead of Love," is the perfect jumping-off point for the uninitiated. Pay close attention and you'll hear a bit of every band member here and there.

Cliff Young (vocals, guitars), Danielle Glenn (vocals), Aric Nitzberg (bass), Todd Bragg (drums), Garrett Buell (percussion) and Webb simply shine as Young sings "Looking back I can finally see/How failures bring humility/Brings me to my knees/Helps me see my need for Thee."

"This World," based on Romans 12, combines excellent harmonies and impressive guitar work to highlight a common Christian struggle of being "in" the world but not "of" it. "This world has nothing for me/And this world has everything/All that I could want/And nothing that I need."

"Center Aisle" is the most gripping and bare cut on the record. Written by Webb from the personal experience of the suicide of a friend's sister, the simple one-guitar-and-vocal approach showcases Webb's lovely tenor voice and obvious gift for songwriting.

About his songs, Webb said, "I've never been prepared to do this (songwriting). But about a year into being in this band, I started writing. I'm learning. Little by little you learn from your boundaries."

When asked to pick one of his songs and explain the inspiration behind it, Webb tells me everything I ever wanted to know about the toe-tapping and infectiously happy "Bus Driver."

"This song came out of conversations with friends in college who have jobs. They'd tell us how they wished they had a ministry opportunity where they are. Sometimes people are so out of focus about what ministry is. Our lives are our ministry. My ministry is my whole life."

"'Bus Driver' is about a person who has been so faithful in his job for so long, thinking it's menial," he said.

"It's easy to feel like God's doing nothing through you, but you never know. Sometimes the best ministry is what God keeps from us.

"You don't know what legacy you're leaving."