July 10th marked the release of Cheri Keaggy’s 6th solo album, So I Can Tell, the long-awaited follow up to her 2007 offering, Because He Loved Us First. According to CMSSpin.com, this also marks the 18th anniversary of Cheri’s Dove Award-nominated debut CD, Child of the Father. Cherri chronicles the same event on her blog.
Much has developed in Cheri’s life in the last 5 years. Her children grew up, graduated and got married respectively. She also endured divorce to her husband / high school sweatheart, Eddie Keaggy, nephew of legendary artist Phil Keaggy. With reviews I read saying she draws upon all these experiences in the album, I was ready to listen.
Why I Chose to Keep Listening
Originally, I choose the album assuming that she was an offspring of Phil Keaggy, who was one of the artists I remembered fondly growing up and while graduating from ONU. I remember being told an urban legend that started with folks asking Eric Clapton how it felt to be the greatest guitarist on the planet and he said, “I don’t know. Ask Phil Keaggy.” I never researched to find it was true, but research did later lead me to find that Cheri was in fact the now ex-niece-in-law – things I learn along the way.
Because she wasn’t Phil’s daughter, I was going to start sifting through the other releases when the middle of the title track / first song, So I Can Tell, struck a chord. The chorus kicks off with a a Bonnie Rait-like Southern acoustic Memphis blues/gospel groove. Subtle blues get me every time. I also liked the fact the theme of the song was willing to be human enough to essentially say, “…according to the sum of my experiences.”
Here’s Cheri discussing the album:
So I stopped sifting for other selections. I’m glad I did.
- So I Can Tell
- There Will Be One Day
- When You Were Jesus to Me
- Starting a New Year Today
- Air, Food, and Water
- Hello, God
- To Live Is Christ
- Come to Me
- Bind Me to You
- Romans 15:13 (Benediction Song)
- Postlude: Invitation to Hope (featuring Phil Keaggy).
Starting a New Year Today – It’s a folksy and rambling, but for all the right reasons. It made me think about the recent painful breakup I went through and dove deeper to find the backstory. According to what I found, the song was written on the one-year anniversary of her divorce. And that, in the end, better days are ahead.
The other reason I picked “tarting a New Year Today” as my favorite is because I gravitate to more of the storytelling songs. Blame that on all the Dylan I heard in college I suppose, but I like the pictures such prose conjures in my head. It would also explain why other songs like the quickstepped Air, Food, and Water capture my attention more. [Update - after the third listen, Air, Food, & Water is like favorite song 1A. Nice, fluid and wakes me up!]Runner up – Postlude: Invitation to Hope (featuring Phil Keaggy). It had me at the first four bars Phil picked out. It’s just an instrumental, but a pleasant one. I think it also shows the fans that there’s no hard feelings and that her divorce wasn’t too tabloid-ish but more amicable.
Most Forgettable Song
While there weren’t any songs that stood out as, “best left off the album,” the one that I seemed to forgot I listened to was, Bind Me to You. I went through it twice and went, “wait, what was that about?” It was also late when I heard it so who’s to say, but I had to pick one. Sorry, fans of the song.
Overall – Would I listen to it again?
Well, I’m on listen 4 thanks to Spotify. I found myself enjoying it more the second and third time and will listen to it again while I’m on the backroads of Duneland heading to meetings. I’d take that to be a good sign.