David Shawn Cook’s musical journey began in the 1980’s as a dyed in the wool rocker with Boston’s The Puppet Rulers, but self-sabotage plagued his life. Substance abuse issues and personal emptiness plagued Cook until another journey began. Cook, at his lowest point, turned to God and surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. His newfound faith lifted him out of the quagmire he lived in and has sustained him since. It also allowed him to approach his musical ambitions anew as a Christian artist and he uses his songwriting as a means of testifying about God’s continual positive effect on both his outlook and everyday life. His latest single “In the Spirit” from the album of the same name is one of his most enthusiastic avowals of faith yet.

URL: https://davidshawncook.com/

It supplies ample evidence of the musical milieu that initially produced Cook. He steeps “In the Spirit” in an Eighties vibe without the result ever sounding hackneyed or corny. It doesn’t sound far removed from AOR rock fare of the time and superb musicianship distinguishes it each note of the way while still being accessible for any listener. The broad appeal of the song’s arrangement will be one of the keys to this song finding the listener’s acceptance and it achieves a near-universal frame of reference.

Production is another key to the song’s appeal. Cook achieves a well-balanced sound that never focuses on a single part over others. He thoroughly integrates his vocals into the song’s scheme rather than superimposed over the top of its instrumentation. Some listeners may long for a little added oomph from the track, but it’s hard to imagine anyone coming away from the song feeling as if its slightly muted sound mars an otherwise outstanding recording.

The striding tempo of the song generates steady energy from the outset and pays off with the chorus. Judiciously arranged backing vocals add further support for Cook’s robust voice during the aforementioned chorus and he has a command presence throughout the verses. His well-written lyrical content praises God, it’s fully celebratory in every line and catalogs Biblical wonders with an obvious deep knowledge of Scripture. Cook isn’t a dilettante milking his religious subject matter for sales. He’s invested in the song’s message.

It runs a little under four minutes in all. It’s a perfect running time for this song. “In the Spirit” doesn’t tarry making its musical case to listeners and wisely doesn’t hang around far past its welcome. Cook’s musical instincts are a reflection of his extensive experience as both a musician and songwriter; he knows what listeners want and, most importantly, don’t want to hear. Self-indulgence is a stranger to his art.

You don’t have to be a believer to enjoy “In the Spirit”. David Shawn Cook communicates such fully realized joy with every second of this song that the listening experience is a pleasant ride regardless of religious affiliation. He comes across as confident, skilled, and grateful more than anything else. It’s a convincing performance from a talented musical artist and holds up under repeated listens. 

Garth Thomas