Idol Chatter

Listening to pop/gospel artist Nicole C. Mullen’s powerful vocal gymnastics on songs like “Call on Jesus” and “Redeemer” has long been an antidote for lifting my spirits whenever I’m feeling a little blue. So it was difficult not to feel some significant disappointment at first when I listened to her latest effort, “Sharecropper’s Seed, Volume 1.” This is a softer, more reflective Mullen and, after a second listen, I realized that although the album has a few stellar moments, Mullen’s new, more mature style– which focuses on spare musical arrangements–might take a little getting use to for her fans.

Mullen draws from her family experiences for several songs on “Sharecropper’s Seed,” but does so effectively only on the title track, in which she tenderly looks back at her family’s difficult, yet priceless, spiritual legacy. The other songs like “Baby Love” and “When I Grow Up” feel so intimate and personal that they leave the listener feeling awkwardly uncomfortable–like an outsider who is eavesdropping on a someone’s private conversation.

There are also the prerequsite worship songs that Mullen’s fans have come to expect, but songs like “Elohim” and “Convinced,” while thoroughly enjoyable, are still too predictable and just don’t have the depth of her previous work. The closest Mullen gets to her past worship efforts is on the song “Fall,” in which she passionately expresses the beauty of letting go of life’s troubles and relying on the grace of God.

So while I am not sure there is a memorable blockbuster on “Sharecropper,” I think Mullen hits just enough emotional notes–as well as musical ones–to make keep most of her fans happy, while her mellower style may attract a few new ones.

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