Grace: A Sacred Cello Collection
Steven Sharp Nelson
2014 / Stone Angel Music
Review by Michael Debbage
For many of you, your first exposure to this unique cello percussionist may have been courtesy of the energetic Piano Guys who present their very unique interpretations on many of today’s contemporary songs. However, when not arranging and recording with pianist Jon Schmidt in the previously mentioned group, cellist Steven Sharp Nelson has been busy creating three of his own inspiring solo albums. Grace: A Sacred Cello Collection as the title suggests brings these recordings among with a few other surprises under one roof.
This reviewer’s first exposure to this incredible musician dates as far back as 1999 when Steven appeared on Paul Cardall’s debut album for Narada on the album titled The Looking Glass. Since then Nelson has been an ever present creative source on most of Cardall’s material though most significantly on Cardall’s Songs Of Praise. Two tracks are represented here which are “Come Thou Font” and “Redeemer” the latter which is simply tearful and divine. Grace: A Sacred Cello Collection also pulls a track from the collaborative project American Journey with Marshall Mc Donald courtesy of “Homeward Bound” as well as the fully orchestrated “Tender Mercies” that is featured on both the previously mentioned album as well as Nelson’s solo release Tender Mercies: The Sacred Cello Series.
Though fans of The Piano Guys type will enjoy the more upbeat percussive output of “Come, Come Ye Saints” and the rhythmic “All Creatures Of Our God And King”, Grace: A Sacred Cello Collection focuses on Nelson’s more conservative and reserved solo recordings. The reflective tender moments found on the remainder of the album are no less emotionally stirring. Case and point would be Nelson’s pure interpretations of the respected hymnal “Be Still, My Soul” as well as “Thanks Be To Thee” taken from Handel’s Messiah to name a few.
When compared to his gig with The Piano Guys, listening to Grace: A Sacred Cello Collection brings about the epiphany that Mr. Nelson’s style is very diverse, unique and masterful. Capable of leaping from joy with a very original rhythmic style to a tearful stripped down soulful reflective interpretation Nelson is a sorely overlooked cellist. This retrospective Grace: A Sacred Cello Collection will have you mentioning his name alongside his contemporaries David Darling and Yo Yo Ma. So if you have not yet introduced yourself to the music of Steven Sharp Nelson this is a great place to start.
September 28, 2014