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You Raise Me Up
Artist: Sheila Walsh 
Label: Integrity Music
Time: 11 tracks/51:17 minutes

As a fan of Sheila Walsh, I’m a little disappointed with her new release. It’s a decent recording but not great. 

The entire recording consists of popular inspirational and praise and worship songs and one hymn medley ("My Faith Looks Up To Thee/Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty"). The problem is that the songs are not that distinct.

A couple of notable exceptions are the Twila Paris song "God Is In Control," which has lyrics that are especially relevant for today, and "Amazed." Jerry McPherson adds tasteful guitar licks on the first song, as he does throughout the recording, and pedal steel guitar, which is also part of the mix, doesn’t sound any better than on "Amazed." Sheila really makes these songs her own and gets great backing vocals. 

Unfortunately, many of the other songs are just good versions of the originals. If you already have them, there’s not a strong reason to buy this record.

Not too long ago, I read that part of one person’s wish-list was a longing for the old Sheila Walsh. While I might wish for the same with some qualifications—I have no desire for the spiked hair, rock days—I would like to see her do more along the lines of the delightful British-pop on "Again and Again (You Are)," heard on Love Falls Down. That recording, along with Hope and Blue Waters are better choices if you want to experience Sheila Walsh at her best.

It’s also a little misleading that this is advertised on the back cover as having "captivating Celtic melodies reflecting the Scottish homeland of her childhood." The only obvious Celtic sound is heard on the title song "You Raise Me Up." Hope and Blue Waters are much more Celtic.

There’s no denying that Sheila Walsh has a powerful testimony and is incredibly talented. She speaks and sings at Women of Faith Conferences, writes books, is the former co-host of the 700 Club, and knows how to connect with people. 

She is able to do that because she has a tender heart, which comes through in her music. "You Raise Me Up" is a good collection of songs, and it probably does reflect her feelings to some degree, but it falls short because it’s mostly familiar.

Sometimes I think the modern trend of praise and worship music has stifled creativity. Many of the songs are simple and repetitive. There’s not as much depth musically and lyrically. It seems that for some time now, the same songs keep getting repackaged. At the very least, I would like to see mostly new songs on praise and worship recordings. I appreciate artists like Chris Tomlin, Hillsong and others who labor toward that end.

A little of the old Sheila Walsh would be nice, too. One of her older recordings had a great song called, "Angels With Dirty Faces." It had thoughtful and compelling words and music. We could use more articulate and captivating expressions of faith. Songs dealing with more complex music and themes are just as valid as "praise and worship" and can also connect people with God. 

Sheila Walsh has been through a lot and come out the other side. I hope that in the future her songs will reflect a little more of what she is seeing at a given point in time. A batch of new songs like "Again And Again," and "Angels With Dirty Faces" would be something fans could really go for. 

Michael Dalton  
August 29, 2005



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