Album Review: ‘Graceland’ by Kierra Sheard
Kierra Sheard’s ingenuity comes as no surprise being that the singer is from a musical family. Her mother is Karen Clark Sheard (of the iconic Clark Sisters), and she is also the granddaughter of the late Mattie Moss Clark and the cousin of producer & singer J. Moss. I will however overtly state that the singer (especially with her latest project) has successfully managed to carve out her unique sound. A sound that a lot of young people will appreciate, a sound that isn’t shy of talking about her vulnerabilities, flaws, and struggles.
I believe it is one of the reasons why the 27 year old singer landed the gig to be a judge on BET gospel hit singing show “Sunday Best.”
Kierra Sheard’s (aka Kiki) new album “Graceland” is one album that will get steady rotation on urban gospel radio, a very convenient substitute to secular R&B. You can agree with me that the title “Graceland” is self-explanatory – not because it is reminiscent of Elvis Presley’s condo – because as Christians, and broken people we are constantly thriving in God’s grace.
Production and Composition 9/10
Production from “Graceland” is top notch, and this can be credited to her team of impeccable producers. The album sees production from industry specialists like Aaron Lindsey (Israel and New Breed), Harmony Samuels (Jennifer Lopez, Ariana Grande), Diane Warren (Beyonce, Cher), and her brother J. Drew, who has worked on her previously released projects.
Little surprise why the production is nothing short of impressive.
“Graceland” takes a very contemporary view and angle. The album flows accordingly. She puts her vocal cap on and does a stupendous job with it. “Graceland” houses ballads, pop, R&B tunes, but with a hip twist. I like that she is moving away from what every single gospel artist is doing in terms of cliched sounding gospel tunes with mass choir and stuff (not that I have any issues with that). I just appreciate that one can get the same infusion of sound folks like Hillsong United, Beckah Shae, Capital Kings, etc. have incorporated in Christian music, but this time in the urban gospel music front.
If you are looking for “deep” lyrics then look elsewhere. Kierra penned lyrics for this album in such a way that you don’t have to pull out a dictionary to get it, or you don’t have to pull out your intellectuals guns to understand it. For the purpose of this record, I think it does the job. She writes easily understandable and relatable lyrics. The most lyrical profound song in the album is undoubtedly “Kill The Dragon.”
Young people can relate to the message in Graceland. Thematically, it explores struggles, flaws, insecurities and how hope/grace is found in God. The singer also explicitly highlights the unchanging nature of God. She also does a good job convincing listeners – through her sound and in songs like “Repin My God” which features Canton Jones – that they can be Christians and fly, that they shouldn’t settle inside the box that the outside world puts Christians.
“Graceland” is undeniably Kierra Sheard’s best work yet. She bridges the gap between secular music and gospel music. She brought secular sound and energy and Christianized it.
She is among those ushering in a new wave of gospel music. As aforementioned, ‘Graceland” is a gospel alternative to what’s hot today. No need for young Christians to quest for other forms of music (secular) because Sheard has created something they can vibe to.
The stand out tracks are
“Kill The Dragon”
“Repin My God” featuring Canton Jones