Wendy Jepsen as reviewed in The Phantom TollboothThis peaceful, scripture-based album is a showcase for Jepson's strong voice, but it needs far more variety.

Label: Independent (www.wendyjepson.com)
Time: 11 tracks / 66 mins.

There is a very promising start to this release. Some watery effects lead into “On and On,” which – like most of the album – reflects on the deep love of God. Its refrain makes it one of the strongest works on the disc, helped by a little instrumental break at the end.

After this, some of the weaknesses begin to show. As the awkward title hints at, “I Will Betroth You” is one of many tracks that are made up of a patchwork of scripture quotes to tunes that are sometimes memorable, and sometimes not – and occasionally the lines scan awkwardly too (“How I Love”). Jepson very rarely creates her own metaphors or surprises us with interesting angles, so she is up against most of the CCM industry in re-configuring predictable bits of bible into similar-sounding songs.

But Jepson’s strength is that her voice is strong and clear. It deserves more variety of pace and style to do it justice and some instrumental breaks to let it breathe. She comes across best accompanied simply by acoustic guitar, where she can create a peaceful mood. The classical guitar and gentle congas on “Yahweh Victorious” make a beautiful accompaniment. “If Today,” based on piano, with a dash of cello, also serves her well.  

“Beauty for Ashes” (her own version, not the Crystal Lewis one) has another strong melody, but is a little over-long and starts to drag more than it should – a casualty of too many mid-pace pieces that all run together.

So this disc is another case of less is more. An EP of the strongest tunes trimmed (including “Lean,” “On and On,” “Beauty for Ashes” and “Yahweh Victorious”) would be preferable. Given a more creative approach to song-writing and an objective producer with a big pair of scissors, her next release could be much stronger.




Derek Walker