We have practically seen Kierra Sheard grow up right before our eyes. She’s gone from dropping the “KiKi” in her name, guest features on her mom’s CD’s, to establishing a dominating presence all her own in the industry. With the release of her latest project Free, it’s clear that she’s come in to her own, not only as an artist, but as a young woman with eyes only for God.

Keeping it all in the family, Free was produced by Sheard’s brother, J Drew Sheard, and released on the family owned label, Karew Records.

The live portion of the project opens up with three, high-energy, infectious praise starters: “War,” “Mighty” and the second single “You Are.” I predict “You Are” will gain traction with praise teams and youth choirs all over the country. It’s has a familiarity and drive that is undeniable!

Then Sheard delivers some of the most genuine worship songs of her career, like one of my favorites “Desire,” as well as, “Free” and “Indescribable” previously recorded by Chris Tomlin. If you’ve never heard this song before, it will make you an instant fan. The imagery of this song takes on a life of its own.

Just when you thought Kierra had gone completely “grown & saintly” on us, she comes in with two more favorites of mine; “People” and “Victory ft. James Fortune.” Both of these tracks just groove and allow Sheard to be youthful and churchy all in one.

The latter part of the album takes Sheard back to her urban roots and truthfully, this is where the album loses a lot of steam. When you have albums like “I Owe You” and “This Is Me,” which is still being touted by many as one of her best projects to date, one expects the same caliber of music and to me these missed the mark a little. For the most part, I didn’t walk away with any of these songs stuck in my head and I REALLY wanted to! ANYONE who knows me knows I’m a sucker for a hot urban track!

While we’re on the subject mishaps, there were a few other minor problems. On the live half of the CD, I wasn’t thrilled with the final mix. Overall, I felt there could have been a better balance. ANDDDD I know I may get stoned for saying this, but I’m going to say it anyway. While I know one of the purposes of a live recording is to make the listener feel like they were right there worshipping with the rest of the masses, but at times the crying got to be a bit much for me. I wish those portions would have been edited down and maybe saved for a live DVD. I know many people will disagree with me on that, but it’s my personal preference.

All in all, Free is not without a few missteps, but I do believe this new project will probably resonate better than some of Kierra’s previous offerings. Transparency, growth and spiritual maturity always wins! And nowadays, that’s exactly what the people want. So Free gets 1 ½ CRICKETS, which means you’re FREE to go buy it! Was that play on her album title cheesy? I thought it was clever, if I do say so myself! LOL