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The Renewing by Isaac Shepard

The Renewing
Isaac Shepard (2009): 33mins (approx)


Review by Kate Russell

“The Renewing” is the third album by Isaac Shepard. A composer for twenty years, Isaac finds inspiration in travel, the beauty of life and, perhaps most importantly, his faith. In his words “(He’s) just trying to do (his) small part in sharing the peace and joy that God has given (him)”. Though a relatively short album, it is also one that for the most part is packed with unexpected twists and turns – just as you think you have the hook, it inverts and turns into something completely different, whisking you away down another musical rabbit hole. This is music that evolves, that renews itself as much as you might expect from an album with this title.

Starting off the album, ‘Tears Can Fall’ uses unexpected ‘drips’ of piano trills against the main melody to evocative effect.

‘Let Me Sleep’ starts off with an interesting hook, that includes minors and missed notes. Moving between more melodic and sinister tones, it could easily represent the transition through nightmare to dream, consciousness to shadow. ‘Dimming the Lights’ isn’t so contrasting, but deserves a mention for hook and atmosphere.

A playful feeling waltz, with a soft hook, ‘Good Company’ is as delicate and thought provoking as any Satie composition at the beginning and melts into a feel-good conclusion by the end. Definitely one of the best tracks on the album, along with ‘Countdown’, in which the piece’s strong 2/4 rhythm captures perfectly the inescapable feeling of time passing.

Sometimes pensive, and at other times hopeful, ‘Simple Moments’ explores more of the changeability on this album. ‘Pretty Fingers’ follows on comfortably from here, with more major/minor contrast that gives it duality of emotion.

As slow as its name suggests, ‘Slow Down’ is a quintessential outro track. With drama building in the middle, it seems as though there will be definite resolution to the album. But the pensive melody returns at the end of the piece, leaving the listener with a question – the answer and meaning of which, it is up to the listener to decide.

There were songs on the album which took more than a few listens to get into. ‘Doors of Life’ was a simple piece in contrast to the playful jumps and hooks found elsewhere on the album. ‘All Smiles’ was a little arpeggio-heavy, and I wanted to hear more of the tantalizing flares that existed but did so all too sparingly. I appreciate, personal taste is a factor here, but on a 33 minute album every second counts to make an impact.

To sum, the pieces played on “The Renewing” are a perfect representation of the concept that contains them. The twists and turns in the music remind us of the evolution of things, of music and of ourselves.

If you’d like to listen and contemplate the meaning of ‘The Renewing’ for yourself, or read a little more about the artist in his own words, then check out his official site and blog at: http://www.isaacshepard.com/. Mp3s of the album are available for download from iTunes and Amazon mp3, whilst physical CDs are available at both Amazon and CD Baby.

Kate Russell is a singer/songwriter and busker from Vancouver, up until recently performing under the stage name Jadis Gloom (www.myspace.com/jadisgloom). Currently she is taking some time out from her solo music projects to write, listen to other styles of music and gain inspiration from other artists and their own creative journeys. Believing that to look into someone’s art is also to look inside their soul, she enjoys the intimate opportunities for understanding others in new ways that being a music critic provides.

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