Prime Cuts: The Refrigerator Door, Couldn't Feel Any Better (Featuring Chris Freeman), More than Enough
Overall Grade: 4/5
Mark Bishop is a storyteller extraordinaire. With a keening eye towards the minute details of life's happenstance, Bishop flourishes a three dimensional realism in his story-songs that we can't help but be drawn in, not as a spectator, but as a member of the story's plotline. Over the years, he has had crafted an oeuvre of such narrative songs that has set him out in the sea of Southern Gospel singer-songwriters. "A Different Light," despite the titular, continues on this sublime legacy. This is the type of album that will keep you listening intently because you can't help but be drawn by the luring of his song's protagonists.
"A Different Light," which features 11 new songs all written by Bishop, is Bishop's first album since 2014's "This is What It's All About." The set begins on a note of bombast. Keeping the Gospel central, "More than Enough" is a string accompanied and choir-backed anthem that celebrates the redemption Jesus on a majestic note. One would wish co-producer Jeff Collins would have brought more of that pomposity to "I'm in Good Hands." With Bishop's high tenor and the song's understated country backing, the song lacks some percussion and bass to give it more of a gravitas. Much better is the folk sounding "Tell Me You Saw Me;" a delightful banjo-led piece about living out the Gospel in our lives.
The album's highlight is also the album's lead single "The Refrigerator Door." In the tradition that has become Bishop's signature, this is a wonderful story song that gives a mental picture of how God's love can be found in the smallest things in life. The way Bishop sets up the song, the attention paid to details, and the development of the song's plotline make this song a "must-hear." "Fly Fly Away Little Birdy" continues to take us on a nostalgic narrative trail of a father watching his son growing up. Brimming with so much wisdom like the Father in the book of Proverbs, "I'm Gonna Wish I Had Worried Less" is filled with so much Godly advice from a father to his son.
Nevertheless, on songs such as "God is Powerful" and "Finish Strong, Finish Well, Finish Empty" and "He's Always Been a Friend," there is a run-in-mill feel to them. They sound almost like Bishop has been hitting a writer's block. However, despite some uneven spots, the songs on "A Different Light" does have some extremely shinny moments. When Bishop spins his songs around those well-thought out stories gleamed from the heart to heart interactions of his characters, they are definitely worth our full-on attention.