Album Review of Lead Me Home by Camille Nelson

Camille Nelson is a highly-accomplished guitarist and violinist whose second studio album, Lead Me Home, was released on Stone Angel Music. Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, Camille also lived in Nashville, Tennessee for a couple of years, has visited more than 70 countries, and speaks English, German and Italian. Comprised of 12 compositions that feature renditions of traditional hymns and pieces composed by the artist, Lead Me Home is a glowingly captivating acoustic guitar and string ensemble album, which could be further described as a unique blend of classical, inspirational, acoustic-folk and contemporary instrumental styles with notable overtones of Celtic and Americana. Shane Mickelsen is the album’s conductor and string arranger, while an outstanding lineup of contributing musicians variably lend violins, viola, cello, fiddle, mandolin, dobro and pedal steel guitar.

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The album opens with one of the most beautiful instrumental renditions of “Amazing Grace” I’ve ever heard, with acoustic guitar providing the lead melody amidst violin and a string symphony. Richly encompassing and warm with a crystal-clear resonance, Camille additionally lends a perfect vocal touch with her softly ethereal intonations, making this one of the most deeply moving compositions on the album. The following piece, “How Great Thou Art”, embodies the often lulling, soul-soothing essence that many of the compositions herein possess with its comforting melody and tender arrangement of strings and guitar.

My favorite piece on the album is a rendition of a traditional Irish hymn entitled “Be Thou My Vision”. Featuring the exquisite Celtic vocals of Alex Sharpe singing in Gaelic, this gorgeous arrangement also showcases emotive violin and velvety guitar with softer brushes of violin deftly mimicking bagpipes within the enveloping string ensemble. Songs like “Israel, Israel, God is Calling” convey a folksier feel with rhythmically acoustic and pedal steel guitar accompanying the violin. Another favorite is “Come, Come, Ye Saints”, which features Camille’s brother, Steven Sharpe, of The Piano Guys on cello. I especially like the woodsy percussive effect throughout, which seemingly guides the listener on a night journey across the Great Plains.

“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is another highlight possessing a notably Celtic bent, which showcases Ryan Shupe on both fiddle and mandolin. “Count Your Many Blessings” perfectly concludes the album with a current stream of softly resonating piano that’s accentuated by acoustic guitar and violin.

An utmost professional, sophisticated and inspirationally heartfelt album, Lead Me Home never comes across as being ostentatious or over-embellished. Deserving of widespread recognition, I was personally moved by these beautiful compositions, and left in awe of this artist’s immense talent and musicianship. What a refreshing listen! ~Candice Michelle

 

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