When "Redeemer" became a smash hit on Christian radio in 2000, the newly signed Nicole C. Mullen soon became a household name. Since her quick climb to the top about seven years ago, Mullen has released several records and had a handful of other radio hits in addition to garnering numerous Dove Award nominations. With such an impressive resume, one would think Mullen would follow the formula she's used for years that has worked so well. But that's not even close to what she did. Instead, Mullen's latest album to date, Sharecropper's Seed, Volume One, is a much simpler project than anything we've heard from her so far.
Sharecropper's Seed opens with the quiet, stripped down title track. Compared to her early work that was often either a striking ballad or an R&B infused dance tune, this is a slight surprise. Nonetheless, this simple arrangement does an excellent job of showcasing Mullen's incredible vocal abilities. "When I Grow Up" and "I Wish" are both crafted in a similar vein, modest production yet very enjoyable. That's not to say every song on Sharecropper's Seed displays such simplicity. "So In Love" is a slightly funky number, while "Convinced" is more pop/adult contemporary in sound than most of the album.
Maybe the different musical direction of Sharecropper's Seed was affected by the album's lyrical theme. It appears most of the project's ten tracks were written to or about those close to Mullen. For example, the title track recounts Mullen's heritage and even credits her ancestors for making her the woman she is today. "So In Love" seems to be a love song written to her husband (producer David Mullen) and "Baby Love" is sure to be about her admiration and love for her children. One track, "When I Grow Up," is sung from the perspective of a child who wishes to be just like a parent they look up to. Though most of the songs follow this theme, "Convinced" is a standout song about a faith deeply rooted in Christ that cannot easily be shaken.
Though Sharecropper's Seed is quite a departure from previous efforts of Mullen's, it is a still an enjoyable one nonetheless. Simple, stripped down projects like this are a good reminder that bigger production doesn't always mean a better album. Until Nicole C. Mullen's next full-blown pop record, fans are sure to enjoy the latest fruits of her labor.- Review date: 3/31/07, written by Lauren Summerford
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