All About Jesus
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2002 1 Aug
Most fans of Rebecca St. James already are acquainted with Charmaine. The 17-year-old has served as a backup singer on Rebecca's tours for the last two years, gradually earning a recording contract on Rebecca's father's label, Elevate. Music ministry literally has been a part of Charmaine's life since the day she was born — her parents started a traveling worship team in 1984 based in Australia, and Charmaine began singing with them at the age of four. If you're a diehard fan of Rebecca St. James' music and have liked everything she's ever released, then there's nothing else you need to know. You'll absolutely love Charmaine's debut album, All About Jesus, especially if you like Rebecca's
Still with me? Very well, there is one matter that's problematic about Charmaine. When I say she sounds similar to Rebecca St. James, I'm understating the matter. Were it not for her looks, which are more like Jennifer Love Hewitt or Michelle Branch, you'd swear Charmaine were somehow related to Rebecca. In a "blind taste test," people can't tell the difference; I've had more than a few ask me about "Rebecca's" latest single, "I Love You Lord," and where they might obtain it. Both that song and "You Are With Me" are extremely similar in sound to Rebecca's hit "Pray." Additionally, all the other songs on
To some extent, the similarity is understandable. Charmaine hails from Australia like Rebecca and is close with Rebecca's family. Charmaine is only seventeen, and is starting her music career at an early age, as Rebecca did. She has a similar vocal range, and any good backup singer will hone her skills to blend with the featured artist. The pronunciations, harmonies, and vocal quality are a nearly perfect match — Charmaine either genuinely sounds like Rebecca, or she's lost her own vocal identity somewhere along the way.
Depending on your standards and what you're looking for in new music, however,
Much is made of Charmaine's role as a teenage worship leader, as if that were unique these days. It's not; numerous worship albums from Vineyard and Acquire the Fire feature a mere fraction of the teenage worship leaders around today. The reality is that Charmaine is the only teen female worship leader with a recording contract, which would be impressive if she'd used this opportunity to create something original and to add her unique artistry to the worship genre. Charmaine's worshipful modern-pop debut is easy on the ears and will please teens and fans of the genre, as long as you don't mind the lack of creativity or the incredible similarity to an already popular Australian artist with a heart for God