Derek Webb is one of Christian music’s bonafide cult heroes, and while he may not be in sync with the genre’s prevailing trends, he commands a passionate following thanks to the idiosyncratic excellence of his work. This time, he surrounds himself with Beatles-esque pop/rock arrangements and comes up with an album reminiscent of Ron Sexsmith, Sam Phillips and similarly ‘60s-inspired singer/songwriters. Webb uses astringent guitars and choppy rhythms to underscore mind-prodding tunes like “A Love That’s Stronger Than Our Fear” and “A Savior on Capitol Hill.” The galloping pace of “Name” and the chiming tones of “Can’t Be Without You” are especially evocative of the Flower Power era. Webb draws the listener in with those appealingly retro sounds, but it’s his perceptive lyrics that really hit home — tracks like “I Don’t Want to Fight,””I for an I,” and the mostly-acoustic “This Too Shall Be Made Right” confront suffering with keen wit and unsparing honesty. First track to last, The Ringing Bell resonates with intelligence and spirit. -iTunes
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