Thursday, June 29, 2006
Review: Kierra "KiKi" Sheard's This Is Me
Kierra "KiKi" Sheard
This Is Me (EMI Gospel)
Released June 2006
reviewed by LaTonyaTaylor
Sounds like … contemporary R&B for fans of Destiny's Child, Virtue, Mary Mary, and Ramiyah.
At a glance … positive, enjoyable and occasionally irresistible, This Is Me is worth listening to, despite its occasional flaws.
With the release of her debut album in 2004, Kierra "KiKi" Sheard took her first steps toward building her own style of music ministry. Sheard, who comes from the Clark family of gospel glitterati, found immediate acclaim, and related singles topped the gospel sales chart and Japan's radio charts. Now an 18-year-old college student, she follows up with This Is Me, which continues her penchant for high-energy R&B with addictive hooks, evidenced by the opening tracks "You're the Only One" and "Yes."
Things mellow more with "It Is What It Is," a track about leading people to choose heaven over hell. Lyrically, there's a sense of dissonance between the idea of speaking difficult truths with loving passion and the song's almost flippant disregard for the seeker's questions and experiences. The soft slow jam of the title track stands in stark contrast with its sense of humility, self-examination, and growth. It closes with some of the best ad-libbing on the album as Sheard changes the emotional tone from laid-back R&B to more passionate gospel. Other highlights include the hypnotic "Have What You Want," the meditative "Hear This," and Clark-harmony-laden "No Never."
Despite some hints of funk and retro pop, this album doesn't have the same stylistic diversity as her 2004 debut, I Owe You, and no gospelicious surprises like that album's quartet-based "Done Did It." The plentiful R&B is enjoyable, but Sheard shines most when displaying her churchified vocal prowess. Here that's only evident in her jazz-gospel ad-libs during the closing vamps of her songs, where they're often lost in the repetition. But appropriately enough, This Is Me is an aural portrait of an artist finding her voice. The result is not necessarily classic, memorable gospel/R&B music, but it's always positive, often enjoyable, and sometimes irresistible.