Prime Cuts: No One Higher, Your Love, Empty Me
Just like the pirouette of a ballerina needs to be marked by a balance of poise, flexibility and purpose. Shon Murray's latest release "Ready" is also characterized by the same triumvirate of excellence. First, Murray demonstrates a sense of poise in the way she presents herself vocally. With a sophistication of a Yolanda Adams that can delve into the soul of a song, Murray has the ability to communicate shades of emotions through her sultry alto. Second, these songs show Murray's willingness to be flexible. Within this canon you will find Murray tackling an array of genres and styles from contemporary Christian pop ("Empty Me") to modern worship ("Lifeline") to choired accompanied Gospel ("His Mercy") to R&B funk ("Ready") to even an African tune ("African Praise Medley"). Third, despite canvassing such a wide musical scope, the vanes of these 12 songs are still directed towards Jesus Christ with each song offering aid to us in our worship and our walk with our beloved Savior.
Music has always run in the blood of Shonica "Shon" Murray. Raised in Las Vegas, Murray first discovered her love for singing in the church choir. This later led her to avail herself for more opportunities of singing at weddings, celebrations and school performances. Then in 1995 she became the lead singer and dancer for the "Louie Cordero Show" at the famed Las Vegas Hilton. In 1999 she was invited by Clint Holmes to join his show at Harrah's Casino. This led her to the release her first solo recording "If I Was Your Girl" in 1999. Further doors opened for her, as she began singing with the Las Vegas Mass Choir, worship leading, and later even singing with Alicia Keys and Israel Houghton.
"Ready" is Murray's latest Christian release which finds her working closely with her husband cum producer and song writer Duane Murray. Charging off the gates with a new found R&B zest and some funky 70s sounding synth work is the title cut "Ready." This song finds a sure footed Murray giving affirmation to her commitment towards following Christ. If "Empty Me" sounds familiar, it's because it's a Chris Sligh cover. Sligh, like Danny Gokey, Colton Dixon and Mandissa, was one of the finalists on American Idol that went on to record Christian albums. With a greater emphasis on the piano sound relative to former AmIdol's version, Murray's version is just as piercing. Warning us against the futility of the world's limelight, "Empty Me" is the type of song that will bite into our world-craving soul.
Frankly, Murray is at her best when she's lost in worship. From the God exalting lyrics to the gorgeous piano sounds to Murray's warm soaring vocals, it's hard to fault a song like "No One Higher." And she literally brings us back to church with the choir-backed Gospel anthem "His Mercy." While Scripture comes alive with "Bless the Lord." Though it's wonderful to see Murray crossing cultural barriers in recording "African Praise Medley" but to have it segued in the middle of the record somehow disrupts the flow. Other than that, "Ready" is the type of album that will get us all pumped up to worship, to pray and to again empty ourselves before God.