aims to offer the most compelling biblically-based content to Christians on their walk with Jesus. is your online destination for all areas of Christian Living – faith, family, fun, and community. Each category is further divided into areas important to you and your Christian faith including Bible study, daily devotions, marriage, parenting, movie reviews, music, news, and more.

Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Before the Daylight's Shot

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Oct
Before the Daylight's Shot
Sounds like … bluesy roots pop and rock, evoking the earthiness of Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Kim Hill, and Wynonna Judd with the soulfulness of Aretha Franklin and the tender delivery of Joni Mitchell or Annie LennoxAt a glance … though a little conventional at times and similar to her past work, Ashley Cleveland's seventh album still delivers passionate blues pop/rock that boldly expresses her Christian faith without resorting to clichéd sentiments. Track Listing Queen of Soul Higher Ground Streams of Mercy The Blessing Ready or Not Satisfied with Drowning Twilight Hour I Need Jesus Deeper Walk Roll Away the Stone

Ashley Cleveland kicks off her seventh album with "Queen of Soul," a fantastic blues rocker that isn't about Aretha Franklin but the hope that Jesus offers every woman who has ever felt hurt and longing—from the Samaritan at the well to the girl in an abusive relationship today. It's the perfect opener for this Grammy-winning artist, demonstrating the gutsy honesty with which she expresses her faith and applies it to the world, while also proving her amazing vocal has lost nothing in the 15 years since her debut. Bonnie Raitt, Wynonna Judd, Joni Mitchell, Annie Lennox, Melissa Etheridge, and yes, even Franklin—Cleveland truly is everywoman in the way she captures the grit, tenderness, passion, and soul of these legendary singers, yet delivers with a voice uniquely her own.

Co-produced with husband/guitarist Kenny Greenberg, Before the Daylight's Shot features Cleveland doing what she does best. "The Blessing" uses harder edged blues-rock to explain how tough times can shape us for the better, while the shimmering guitar pop of "Streams of Mercy" finds peace in the arms of God. The album title comes from "Ready or Not," challenging us to live our faith without fear, and "Deeper Walk" uses a softer acoustic bed to share the need for prayer in a relationship with Christ. Cleveland also covers Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" with a bluesy stomp reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughn, and a rendition of Leon Russell's "Roll Away the Stone" closes the album with a powerhouse cry for renewal.

Still, the album feels a little played out after just ten songs. Cleveland doesn't really try anything new, and the latter half labors because of it—"Twilight Hour" has a more predictable pop/rock sound, and "I Need Jesus" lacks the musical urgency to support its desperate plea. But Cleveland nevertheless pulls it off with grace and distinction, drawing deep within herself to be bold with her faith, not trite. She's always going to make excellent albums, with or without label support.

Copyright © Christian Music Today. Click for reprint information.