"Better Days" is a can't miss!
Singer-songwriter and North Carolina native Derek Lee Bishop has just recently self-released his debut album Better Days. Derek Lee Bishop creates a hushed homespun brand of blues-oriented indie folk in the same vein as Iron & Wine with quieted yet confident vocals and rootsy finger-style guitars, while maintaining a widely accessible appeal similar to other singer-songwriters such as David Gray and John Mayer. Bishop began his musical endeavor training in classical guitar and piano and wrote the songs that ended up on Better Days while playing in coffee shops. His approach to songwriting is blended with a touch of both of those elements, highlighting a strong grasp of melody with intricate yet sparse arrangements that make the most out of each song. His voice is rich, warm and inviting and his songs are instantly familiar like a bear hug from a long lost friend. Lyrically, he focuses on his Christian faith and related themes such as love, forgiveness, hope and family.
“Sweet Pardon” opens the album with a passionate, dashboard confessional of Derek’s deep and breathy voice set to striking piano chords and cascading acoustic guitars in front of a wall of gospel tinged organ. The title track, “Better Day” features a positive message, endearing vocals and entrancing cyclical guitar figures along with a poppy, sing along chorus. The mid-tempo stand out track “Not Of This World” introduces drums and bass into the mix for a rollicking, bluesy shuffle that invokes the soulful swagger of early Ben Harper and showcases Bishop’s wide range and skill, to give you a glimpse at what he would sound like leading a full band on a larger stage as opposed to alone in the coffee shop. The ballad-y “I Need You” follows with sweet, close knit vocal harmonies and beautiful, chiming guitar harmonics for another standout moment on a love song to the Holy Spirit. “What You Know” features a laid back and bluesy back porch vibe, while lyrically he reminds us that it’s not what treasures we try to amass here on Earth that are important but that we seek out and rely upon the knowledge of God. In keeping with that theme, “In The Shade” is a solemn and reverent prayer of forgiveness and hope with gorgeous, gentle vocal harmonies and lightly played hand drums that propel the song. Acting as the perfect showcase for Bishop’s classical guitar training, “Romance (Let It Be)” features guitars brushed with a hint of Spanish flair and the song takes on an “Old World” quality complete with a waltzing tempo and an accordion solo. The eight song album closes out with the aptly titled “Julie’s Lullaby”; the song captures a dream-like state with gently picked acoustic guitars with a velvety tone and lilting melodies.
So if you are in the camp that thought Iron & Wine got a little experimental or even if you just pine for rustic and charming singer-songwriter fare, Derek Lee Bishop and his excellent debut album Better Days will perfectly fill that void for you and then some. Plus, you can feel good that the money you spend on the album is going to a couple of great causes. Because as a Christian, Derek has a heavy heart for giving and serving so he has chosen to donate all of his proceeds from the sales of his album Better Days, to various charities. Most notably, Project Red Light Rescue which provides education and a way out for prostitutes around the world and Gospel For Asia, which seeks to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those, especially in the over-populated continent of Asia that have not heard of Him. So, a great message, a great cause and a great sound…Better Days, is a can’t miss!