Producer: Jonathan Shepherd
Record Label: Dove Music
I have been a fan and have been following the music of the Shepherds since I first saw them in person back in the early 90s. Their music has always touched me, and at the heart of their music are the songs written by Debra Shepherd. This latest release features 8 new songs written by Debra, as well re-makes of a couple of her popular songs from several years ago. With main vocals provided by Debra Shepherd, Sheri Haynes and April Shepherd, the group has always had a country flavor to their sound, but the last couple of recordings by the group has taken on a decidedly more country feel, and it works very well for them. This latest effort is country gospel through and through and is one of the best releases from 2022.
Debra is featured on the lead off song, “I PRAY ABOUT IT”. With a strong country beat, the song features banjos and guitars and is a highlight of the recording before the tempo slows down for the song, “BE SURE”. With its dark feel, the song has a stark message to the listener to, “be sure…your eyes stay on Jesus, your soul is anchored…be sure, your redemption is drawing near”. It’s a highlight of the recording and it’s a song that will linger with you long after the song is over.
With banjos and fiddles, Sheri and Debra sing the up-tempo declaration, “OVERCOMER”. With its Pentecostal undertones, the song is a testimony of faith that, “I am an overcomer, through the blood of Jesus Christ, and by my testimony I live a victorious life, I’m not exempt from trouble, sometimes my faith is tried, but I’m an overcomer through the blood of Jesus Christ.” It’s a highlight of the recording and is one that I’m sure goes over extremely well in concert.
Years ago, the Shepherds came out with a song called, “There’s a Miracle in the Making” that was a huge hit for the group and has gone on to become their signature song, and every recording since has featured some type of “miracle” song. This song, “MIRACLES”, sung by April, is a tremendous song declaring that “I believe in miracles”, before the tempo picks back up for the driving, “I STILL BELIEVE”, which features Debra. This is a highly enjoyable tune and is the first single release from the recording.
Slowing the tempo back down, “IN HIS HANDS” is a vulnerable lyric that is relatable to every Christian as we have all been there at some point…“sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the onset of trials…it seems I’ve carried it for miles…I realize in my strength alone I cannot stand…the time has come when I must put it in His hands”. Featuring “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” as a bridge, Debra delivers a heartfelt performance on the song before the tempo gets kicked into high gear for the country feel of “IT’S ALRIGHT, IT’S OK”. Featuring a bit of a Southern Rock feel, Debra does a great job on the song before Sheri steps up to sing the worshipful “I LOVE TO SAY YOUR NAME”.
Closing out the recording are a couple of remakes of classic Shepherd’s songs from years ago…”I CAN’T LOSE FOR WINNING”, which features April, and one of my personal favorites, “I’M SAVED” (Kingsmen fans will remember this song). Both are highly energetic tunes and wrap things up on a high note!
The Shepherds have always released classy recordings and have never released anything subpar. The group has primarily been an independent group and the quality of their recordings has always been on par with what the big labels are putting out. It’s been 10 years (yes, I said 10 years!) since the Shepherds released a new recording, and the release of this album was met with great success! When it was released back in November, the album shot up to #2 on the iTunes chart for Christian Music. It’s been way too long since the group released new music and I was one excited fan when this newest recording was released! I “Believe” we will be seeing much success come from “Believe”, and hopefully it won’t be another 10 years before they release new music!