Music Review: Bright Light by Cheryl Shepherd

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October 21, 2017
Music Review: Bright Light by Cheryl Shepherd

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Track Listing

The Heart Of Man
You Are The Bright Light
I Will Love You
Keep Me Rooted

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Bright Light is a 4 track project that has been recorded in collaboration with the indie-folk band Speak, Brother where their acoustic storytelling style and nuanced performances have added greatly to the emotive tracks featured.

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Bright Light by Cheryl Shepherd
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This is the debut EP from worship leader Cheryl Shepherd. Cheryl leads worship with her husband Jonny at New Life Church in Rugby and although this is her debut EP, it's actually Jonny who has written these tracks. Jonny has previously released 5 EPs of his own music, but this time it is Cheryl who brings the vocal and it's released as her album. Backing them all the way are our friends from Speak, Brother. This is not the folk-blend that you might expect from a project that features Speak, Brother this is a worship album and heads solidly in that direction.

"The Heart Of Man" is the hymn-style opener which looks at the natural response to God from us as created beings - we were made to worship. The song acknowledges that our hearts sometimes put other things in this place, so there is a dedication that we will cast those things down to raise God up. The song structure feels and reads like a hymn, although it switches between the impersonal reference to the heart of man - through to the more personal worship - it's an odd way of putting this song across. Cheryl's voice is strong and clear and brings the expression that this song needs to express the personal aspects of this worship.

The title Bright Light for this album clearly comes from the second of the four tracks called "You Are The Bright Light" which takes a look at how Christ is the light of the world. Taking references from different passages of the Bible it feels a little bit like a lucky dip track which has used a number of different Bible worship lines and put them together, for example in the chorus the line about Jehovah Jireh (which means God my provider) leads into God preparing food in the presence of our enemies (Psalm 23) and this is followed by "And if my God is for me, who can be against me" (Romans 8). When the song is about Christ being a light before us, behind us and in us, I am not quite sure how this all fits together!

"I Will Love You" is about how we love God through whatever we are going through. Expressing this as being on the mountain or in the dust of the valley, to take the mantle of Job that we say that no matter what we will say "blessed be your name". It is this track that Cheryl's voice seems to get to it's comfortable place - and she carries this song brilliantly. The album rounds out with the piano-led "Keep Me Rooted". If I wanted to be picky then I think I probably would have put these 2 songs the other way around, because this is a plea to God to keep us anchored, if we are going to praise through all the events of our lives then we need to be rooted first. These 2 tracks certainly make this EP worth a listen - they are definitely the stronger tracks. This last song once again feels more like a modern hymn - and we need more of this kind of writing in the church. It would have been nice to have a bit more explanation or exposition around being rooted in this track, but it works well enough.

As a whole project this little recording has a great quality to it. Although I didn't like the cut and paste writing of the second track I enjoyed the EP overall. Cheryl has a good voice, but needs to have a backing singer or a duet partner to really make the best of the vocal.

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