The album is significant as it denotes the "evolution of Kierra". We have come a long way from her 2004 I Owe You debut, and many have watched with great interest to see how far and in what direction Kierra Sheard would go. Graceland provides answers to those questions and more.
Here's a great lesson. If you are part of a great musical dynasty, we think it perfectly fitting and appropriate for you to honor the legacy (after all, everyone else has done it). Graceland does exactly that. The disc wastes no time in seizing the opportunity to sample the many works of the Clark Sisters, starting with the album's first single, "2nd Win". The song itself is the "anthem of the victor", bringing clarity and perspective to life's vicissitudes. We are better prepared going through life when we realize who and what we are up against. Although life is filled with frustrating difficulties and devastating setbacks, God is present and active, working everything for our good. The believer is encouraged to know the end has been declared in our favor and victory is right around the corner. A sampling of the Clark Sisters' "They Were Overcome by the Word" rounds out the song with glove fitting couture.
Sheard continues the trip down Clark Sisters memory lane with her interpretation of the hit "Balm in Gilead" (sing Karen!), on her new cut, "Balm". (*Note, in addition to being a hit for the Clark Sisters, "Balm in Gilead" was the lead single for Karen Clark Sheard's Finally Karen in 1997. This was the project that introduced the world to Kierra Sheard as she sang Richard 'Mr. Clean' White's "The Will of God", with her mom.)
As the disc continues its grace overture, the underlying message of Twinkie Clark's "He'll Turn Your Scars into Stars" is prominently featured in "You Don't Like What You See". Canton Jones makes his cameo in the stylistically urban yet unashamedly Christian "Repin' My God". The 'not to be missed' comes in the form of Harmony Samuels' "Save Me" (get the sheet and have the ushers on standby). When coming to the realization of the fact that the greatest enemy and threat to ourselves is us, Kierra Sheard makes a penitent plea to God, "Lord can you hear me, this can't take me over... I need you to save me from it all, save me from myself." THIS CALLS FOR A SELAH MOMENT.
The wow factor continues as Kierra delivers an 'everybody be quiet and stand in awe' rendition of the hymn, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness". The power of God's grace is exhibited and expressed in the Diane Warren composition "Flaws", providing great comfort in the knowledge that God loves ALL of us, in spite of us and His love is continuously abounding and everlasting.
Graceland is a musical depiction of the extent of God's steadfast love for his people as seen through the eyes of Kierra Sheard. Noting that musical expression is her opportunity for full disclosure, she adequately and skillfully conveys the very sentiments of her heart while at the same time ministering hope and healing to others. If Graceland is any indication of where this artist is headed, then we are grateful for the journey, enriched with each life experience and satisfied with the end result.
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— review by Gregory Gay —
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