Album review by Dyan Garris, NewAgeCD.com
Camille Nelson’s newest release, “Lead Me Home,” is a New Age “crossover,” in that it is not traditionally “New Age,” yet not traditionally classical. It’s different, contemporary, refreshing, and undeniably uplifting to the spirit. That in itself makes it a perfect fit for the “New Age” category, and at the same time, it’s also a perfect fit for the Christian holiday season.
Camille is an accomplished fingerstyle guitarist and violinist specializing in acoustic-driven folk music. She is a gifted musician, hailing from a musical family; her father a violinist and her mother a professional opera singer.
Her brother, Steven Sharp Nelson, of the YouTube sensation, The Piano Guys, is a musical guest on “Lead Me Home,” as well as Ryan Shupe of Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband. Alex Sharpe, formerly of Celtic Woman fame, delivers an awesome vocal on one of the tracks. Adding harmonic resonance is a small string ensemble, including another of Camille’s brothers, Matthew, plus sister-in-law, Julie, on violin.
“Lead Me Home” is 12 tracks, 45 minutes, consisting of a mix of traditional and original, primarily instrumental hymns. As a Christian myself, I am familiar with, but am not particularly fond of traditional hymns for purposes of listening pleasure. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from this album.
The album is a true and delightful surprise all through, rich in beauty and brimming with unpretentious authenticity. There is not one shred of “preachiness” here. Just love.
The album opens with what is perhaps the most famous and most familiar of all folk hymns, “Amazing Grace.” A rich, flowing, full-bodied, acoustic version, featuring Camille on violin, guitar, and piano, the interpretation is also interspersed now and again with her dreamy, ethereal vocals interwoven throughout. This song nicely sets the table for the rest of the aural feast. We feel a genuine sense of awe, deep peace, connection, and a definite longing for all that comes next.
The first thing that stands out straight away about the entire album, “Lead Me Home,” is the superior production quality. All of the arrangements are outstanding as well. Camille is signed with label, Stone Angel Music, and worked with executive producer Paul Cardall and producer and engineer Trevor Price to create this album. Stone Angel Music is an independent, award-winning record label and premier recording studio in Salt Lake City, Utah. They all obviously did quite a lot of things right in this production, as “Lead Me Home” charted #8 on the Billboard chart.
The stunningly beautiful first track, “Amazing Grace,” is followed appropriately with the also very beautiful, “How Great Thou Art,” another well-known favorite of hymn lovers.
“Be Thou My Vision,” track 4, treats us to an exquisite Gaelic vocal performance by Alex Sharpe. Alex, an accomplished Celtic artist from Dublin, was formerly with the high-profile group, Celtic Woman, as well as a guest soloist with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Track 5, “Adelia,” is a lovely, melodic, delicate number, reminiscent of innocence and lullabies. Very relaxing and soothing. And with the exception of the breathtakingly beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace,” it is my favorite track on the album; one I found myself listening to again and again.
A well-known Latter-day Saint hymn, “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” is track 8, and features Camille’s brother, Steven Sharp Nelson, “The Cello Guy,” of The Piano Guys. It’s a little heavier feeling hymn, originally penned by William Clayton in the year 1846. However, it’s uplifting in its own way, as it gently and persistently reminds us that no matter where we are, “all is well” as we travel on our journey.
The title track, “Lead Me Home,” track 9, is graceful and elegant and perfectly captures and embodies all of the heart-centered feelings of what “home” ought to be.
Track 10, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” a classic hymn from the 18th century, whose main theme is “divine grace,” is a sweet, flowy, richly textured, and beautifully arranged song featuring the superb artistry of Ryan Shupe on fiddle and mandolin. We can literally feel the grace shining down prolifically upon us.
The final track on the album, track 12, “Count Your Many Blessings,” is like a gentle beam of light reminding us softly that wherever we are or whatever we’re facing, to “let go and let God.” It’s the perfect ending to this lovely album, which is infused throughout with sweet passion, light, and love. Absolutely beautiful in every single note and in every way. Folksy, fresh, and contemporary.
In life, we invariably find ourselves led in various directions. “Lead Me Home” is definitely a direction you’ll want to go in. ~Dyan Garris for New Age CD.com
Buy “Lead Me Home” on iTunes
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