Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Solitude......by Sherrie Shepherd

I felt privileged to be asked by the talented and beautiful Sher over at Sher the Love to give my review of her album titled Solitude.

Some background of your reviewer. I LOVE music. All kinds of music. I love singing, although, I am admittedly not great, but I love to anyway. I am famous for my ICC (in car concerts). That being said, I can't read music. You read that right. I have no idea how to read music. I know that if the notes are higher up on the lines I sing higher. I basically learn a piece by ear and copy the sounds, if that makes any sense. So with my lack of professional training, yet love for music, I approach my own take on Sher's CD.

There are 12 tracks, 7 of which are original pieces written by her. 4 other tracks are her arrangements of some familiar hymns, and the last track were written by someone else, but arranged by her. Let me start off by saying she is remarkably talented!

Track 1 - Solitude is the perfect start to the CD. One thing I love is that there are no words. No lyrics to muddle my mind. Instead, I can listen to the music and infuse my own feelings. Solitude brings to mind a quiet reflective moment, and I can picture Sher, alone at her piano, composing this melody with deep feeling. It invoked for me some feelings of peace.

Track 2 - On the River. This track brought me to an early morning at the lake with my Dad fishing. You know the fish bite better when it's early, so 4 am mornings on the lake were not unusual. This calming piece brought me right there.

Track 3 - Daughters. I wondered what Sher's motivation and feelings were behind this piece. It is so unique and pretty. Not having daughters myself I wondered if those two words described how she felt about her daughters. I did find myself thinking of Sissy, and the changing tempo's of the song made me think of the complicated relationship that Mothers and Daughters have and then the ending calmly pulls it together, just like the relationships tend to end up. I love it!

Track 4 - Love at Home. What a beautiful arrangement! Whenever I usually hear this hymn, I am reminded of the visitor center on Temple Square and the family booth with the kid in the tree house talking about family home evening. I always thought that was cheesy, and so the hymn fell into that category for me. However, Sher's arrangement changed that for me. Instead I learned to appreciate the beauty of the melody and singing the lyrics in my head just kind of sealed the deal for me.

Track 5 - September Morning. Lah, lah lOVE this one! It is just a happy, cheerful tune that I find stuck in my head a lot. It seems to tell a story of success. At least that is how I feel when I hear it. Success. Goal accomplished. Finish line crossed. It is an inspiring track for me.

Track 6 - Come Thou Fount/Hie to Kolob. Come thou Fount is one of my all time favorite hymns and I'm sad it's not included in the new hymn books. When I hear Sher play it arranged as she does, I just feel the spirit. As she moves into Hie to Kolob, my thoughts go right back to a missionary farewell years ago. Back when the missionary and their families planned the program. The missionary chose Hie to Kolob as the closing song. I can still remember thinking what a unique choice, and I associate missionaries with it now. So of course, I started thinking of Elder L, and then my Tuffy.

Track 7 - My Blue-Eyed Boy - Interesting that as my thoughts were on my sons with track 6, it moves into this piece. I have one blue eyed son and he is at the forefront of my mind every time I listen to this piece. Her arrangement is like his personality. The way she moves up and down, and the tempo changes, just seems to fit him. I love it, it has become personal to me.

Track 8 - I Am a Child of God/Families are Forever - Moving right from my thoughts of my sons to this track. I am a child of God was one of the songs I would sing to them every single night before they went to bed, and then Families are Forever, was sort of our family anthem during the time that we were working so hard to go to the temple to be sealed. Track 8 brings me back to those happy moments. Her arrangment is pure and simply beautiful.

Track 9 - Heartstrings. I love this track, because the other day as I was listening to it, I came across a picture of my grandparents. It made me think of them and their love story. I miss them so much it hurts, but this song is like a balm. Love it!

Track 10 - How Firm a Foundation/Praise to the Man. Here she incorporates some bass with her younger brother Spencer who just left on a mission. YAY for Spence! Let me say, this is a powerful piece. It combines the two instruments to beautifully and powerfully. How Firm a Foundation is a hymn that will be in my top list forever. Let me share an experience. Once, a couple of years ago, I was gospel doctrine teacher for our ward. I know, can you believe it? They let me teach Gospel Doctrine?? Funny.... and it was the year we were teaching the Old Testament. I didn't get it. Not at all. It was so hard to understand. One morning early in my kitchen as I was preparing, I just got so frustrated and discouraged because I just didn't understand the material. I felt like I was completely incompetent! Just then the lyrics of the hymn came to my mind "Fear not, I am with thee, oh be not dismayed. For I am your God and will still give you aid." I sat sobbing for a few minutes and then attacked the lesson material again. When I listened to Sher's arrangement, it was like she was in the kitchen with me that morning and picked up all my feelings and incorporated them into her piece. Then it gustily moves into Praise to the Man. It is powerfully performed and you can't help but feel your testimony of the prophet rise a little bit.

Track 11 - Running with Angels. Sher is a fellow runner. I hope to be as good as her some day. This whole piece I just picture listening to as I finish a hard race. The kind where you so desperately want to just walk. Just for a minute, but you don't let yourself. You keep pushing and pushing and somehow, somewhere you find the energy in your body to keep going. I don't know if any of my fore bearers who have passed on were runners, but I like to pretend sometimes I have my own angels helping me through the tough miles.

Track 12 - Daddy's On a Train. This last piece is the perfect ending. Something about it, just evokes the feeling that this has been a great ride. We've enjoyed ourselves, we have felt emotions, we have been calmed, been buoyed, been cheered and now, this is the final coda. Perfect for the ending track.

I realize this is a seriously long post, but I have been listening to her CD non stop in the car since I got it over a week ago, and I knew I would be posting a review. So, not only did I refrain from reading anyone else's reviews so that I would make sure I was original in my thoughts, but I have been keeping notes so I wouldn't forget any of my feelings as I listened to her pieces.

Sher is amazingly talented. And while I can't do any of that, I can certainly as a listener and lover of music, appreciate it on a whole different level.

If you don't already have her CD, go here and order one now. You won't be disappointed.

And Sher, really girl, you are one talented gal. I'm proud to know you! And thanks for giving me the opportunity to spout my feelings about your CD, it has been fun!


Jan the crazy lady said...

Good job Melissa. You can really make the best reviews. Sher will be uber happy and you are so right about the CD. Beautiful and relaxing.

tammy said...

You described the songs perfectly. I love love her CD and have been listening to it non-stop in the car too. And Come Thou Font is one of my favorite hymns too. They sang it at my BIL's funeral and I want it sung at mine. That line from How Firm always brings tears to my eyes, too. Being a pianist, I love piano music, but especially hers. I'm waiting for her to put it all in a book so I can play it too.

Great review!

Anonymous said...

Nice review Melissa!

Kristina P. said...

Great, thorough review, Melissa!

Sherrie Shepherd Piano Music said...

Thank you, Melissa! I appreciate everything you said, although now I'm a blubbering fool!
I love to know how my songs affect people and how they're interpreted.
This review was perfect!
Thank you so much!

Loralee and the gang... said...

Great review! I will have to go and buy her stuff. I've been seeing info pop up on FB since she friended me (I don't know why she did, but I love being friended!) Anyway, I need to go and buy it! Or . . . you can do a giveaway!
Hey, we may be in Hicksville, but Hicksville is where Lava soap was invented, I think! The hairspray got about 90% of the stain out, but the other 10% still makes it unwearable. Lava here I come!

And I love (?)your review of my son's artwork! (You HAVE been in the a reviewer's mode). All I can say is, he's all boy, and he plays way too many video games that keep getting bootlegged into this house by older married brothers and BIL's. I may have to ban X-Box for the summer and de-program him!

Erin said...

What a great and thorough review! I have been enjoying the cd too.

Cadance said...

Very nice review!

Becca said...

Just got the CD in the mail yesterday. We listened to it in the car as we drove up the canyon. It was beautiful and calming and I loved it! My son Andrew decided he wanted to learn a song with a cool arrangement after listening to it and he's been working on it on and off all day. And best of all the hubs approved--he's kind of picky when it comes to piano music 'cause he has a bit of experience.

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