It's Not Too Late
Independent review by Marshall Thomas, Freelance Journalist. Almost eight years on from her second full album release, Give My Life, award-winning Welsh singer-songwriter Helen Jayne McKellar is back with a new collection of songs to stir the soul and, for those who have followed Helen's musical career over the last two decades, 'It's Not Too Late' even offers a few surprises. There is something for most people here - a couple of acoustic ballads, some infectious rhythms and even a little jazz thrown in for good measure. As always, Helen's Christian faith is the foundation of her life and the obvious influence in her music and 'It's Not Too Late' opens with a song of undeniable testimony to God's love. 'Cover you With His Feathers' sets the verses of Psalm 91 to music, but don't be fooled by the ethereal and gentle start, because an infectious pop-rock track gives the song a boundless energy after a little over a minute in to listening. Next up is the CD's title track and a ballad that took me back to a day when a young man in his late teens/early twenties cried during a live performance of 'Safe', the title track of Helen Jayne's award-winning first complete album release, in a church in North West London. Having cried almost 20 years ago during that live performance, this time I cried for slightly different reasons, but there again, somewhat the same reasons. There is nothing more powerful than God reminding us that He is there for us. Twenty years on from first hearing Helen and her now-husband and a manager Doug, 'It's Not Too Late' is, in my estimation, Helen Jayne McKellar at her best. As Helen has relayed in her blogs on her official website, the production of her new songs has sometimes been delayed by her health battles and the feelings of not being able to produce a strong enough vocal. But there's no better way to show the world the quality of vocals that Helen has become renowned for than in two stunning acoustic songs, with Helen accompanied by just a piano and a string ensemble. The first of these two appear on the new CD is 'I Can't Cry Anymore'. In the contest of Helen's health issues, this is a remarkably honest tribute to the strength of God's love amidst human frailty. Like any good song, it takes you on a journey, a journey that you know Helen has been on herself over the years and which inspires the lyric 'I Can't Cry Anymore' to soon become 'I Won't Cry Anymore.' Following on from the opening track referencing Psalm 91, 'Nothing Can Separate' is based on the passage at the end of Romans 8 and from the first few bars, introduces a song that has more of a Jazz-feel than much of Helen's other material, certainly on this CD. After four songs with an unmistakable Gospel message, you might be forgiven for thinking you know what to expect from the penultimate track, 'Hard Cruel Day', but you are in for a surprise with a heart-wrenching story of a little girl who has lost her mother and the mixture of motions and feelings that the family are dealing with. There is a stark contrasting between the punchiness of the chorus and the quiet sadness of the opening verses, but that contrast only adds to the depth of a song that ends with the promise that that there is always someone out there to care for us in times of sorrow.... Helen's last CD, Give My Life, brought comparisons with the vocals of Olivia Newton John.....a comparison aided by that CD containing a cover version of the Aussie songstress's 'A Little More Love'. There are no cover versions here, but the vocal comparison is still perhaps most striking in the second of two acoustic tracks which brings Helen's latest CD to a glorious end. The lyrics of 'Do You Know?' are written from God's perspective and again promise that He knows our struggles and our fears and is right there to face them with us, if only we let Him help us deal with our frailties and fears. It's a poignant reminder of the faith that Helen has had to place in Him through uncertain times to produce another stunning collection of songs. Helen's voice is one of beauty, depth and feeling that is matched by some challenging lyrics. So, here's your challenge... Do YOU Know? Do You Know that Helen Jayne McKellar is back and sounding better than ever? There's only one way to find out....