Although it may not appear to be the case, I am aware of music recorded after 1994, the year the Christian music industry and I bid a not-so-fond farewell to one another. While I couldn’t identify most current Christian artists if I tried, I am at least aware of a few. I’ve highlighted Rachel Wilhelm here, and listeners to Cephas Hour are familiar with Bringing Home, Backstage Revival, and Gold Frankincense & Myrrh. I like MercyMe. And then there’s … there’s … um … okay, I like MercyMe.
And Shelly Moore.
I met Ms. Moore on Facebook, first as a person with shared interests and a decent quantity of friends in common. I’m slowly but surely using Facebook as a networking tool through which to connect with fellow believers of a musical bent. I was aware she created music, but for whatever reason didn’t pursue giving it a listen until last year when she released “Forever Now a Crown,” her first public offering in some eight years. I gave it a try and was immediately enchanted with its gentle yet soaring ethereal power. This led me to immediately snap up her previous work, the most recent of which, 2012’s Unraveling, is the subject of this review.
Moore’s musical base can be described as modern piano pop, sitting comfortably alongside without mimicking artists such as Ben Folds and John Ondrasik’s Five For Fighting. She has a gift for memorable hooks smoothly blending into each song, the end result being tunes boasting both instrumental and vocal lines that stick with the listener as earworms most welcome, not wearying. Moore’s accompaniments are rich without being overblown, sometimes atmospheric and at other times woven from pure Americana stylings. Her vocals are at once vulnerable and confident, warm and human and assured in faith. While Unraveling provides plenty of pleasantry for mainstream music fans, there is well more than enough color and scope to hold more broadminded music aficionados’ interest.
Lyrically, Moore has mastered the art of simple but never simplistic expressions of both faith and the wide variety of human experience as seen in the light of her faith. Much as the Psalms reflect multiple moments in the human condition, not all of them shouting praise, Moore is unafraid to both celebrate life in Christ and touch on the darker elements of life that beset all believers. There is spiritual and poetic depth in her muse; words reflecting true belief and a firm grasp on not only the deeper elements of life in Christ but deep understanding and acknowledgment of life and its accompanying shadows.
In short, Unraveling is a superb record belonging in the library of every Christian music fan. It’s that good, period. It is artistry and ministry, each at the highest level, brought together in a truly blessed whole. There is a reason why I’m constantly playing songs off of it, along with “Forever Now a Crown” and tracks from earlier albums, on Cephas Hour alongside my beloved artists from back in the day. It’s because they belong there, and they need to be heard. Again … Just. That. Good.