Although Bonnie Bishop might hail from Fort Worth these days, she might as well call Memphis her home, for that’s certainly where her soul lives. Bishop lives with her music, inhabits it, dwells in it, delivering soulful versions of her lyrics with soaring vocals that capture the poignance or defiance or love within a lyric.
On The Walk, Bishop digs deep into her heart and gets personal in songs with a stirring groove. “Keep on Movin’” opens with a funky snare beat before moving into a crisp lead line; Bishop’s vocals ride this slow-burning introduction as the singer counsels us to keep walking through life, never looking back, no matter the challenges we encounter along the way. She pleads for someone to help her lighten her load because it’s a long road, but acknowledges that you “still gotta love yourself.” The transcendent background vocals and the lilting lead guitar that plays call and response with the electric piano on the chorus elevate this song, transporting it to the early days of Stax.
“Every Happiness under the Sun,” which Bishop co-wrote with Rebecca Lynn Howard, has a Sly Stone quality to it; it’s an echoing rhythmic funk on which the singer shouts out her gratitude for life — “the happiness under the sun” — despite the shadows that often darken her life. The smooth “I Don’t Like to Be Alone,” recalling the best of Al Green, rides along Ryan Tharp’s jazz-inflected lead lines and captures the ache of loneliness. “Woman at the Well,” another co-write with Howard, opens with a gospel piano roll but blossoms into a full-blown juke joint rocker that’s defiant in its affirmation of women who have ever felt shame simply for being themselves: “My name’s Mary and I’m here to say / All my sins have been washed away / I am the one that Jesus saved from Hell / This song’s for the woman at the well.”
The Walk showcases Bishop’s lyrical ingenuity and her down-to-the-bone soulfulness as she delivers a set of songs that ask us to walk through our own shadows and light in search of love, happiness, or, maybe, just a satisfied sense of resolution in our lives.