- reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 1 Nov
- I Desire More
- What If
- He's So Worthy
- A Song for Jesus
- Lord You Reign Forever
- Love Him
- The Clouds
- Turn to Him
- Even Me
- Breathe on Me
There's something to be said for talent-show winners and their odds of a winning music career. Though American Idol has failed to produce a bona fide star in the past few years, its gospel-based counterparts aren't that much different—all the way from Gospel Dream to Gifted and other smaller-time shows, gospel music is still missing a true reality star. (Limited viewership might have something to do with that.)
That could change with the arrival of Crystal Aikin, the self-titled debut by the all-around first season champ of Sunday Best, BET's high-profile gospel competition. The network's bigger platform may mean more exposure or sales for the singer, so she compensates with a disc that could reel in various factions of gospel—from traditional and contemporary all the way to urban gospel and even CCM.
Produced by the likes of PAJAM, Asaph Ward, and Dre & Vidal, Crystal Aikin ebbs and flows through an assortment of styles, including balmy contemporary gospel ("I Desire More"), orchestrated balladry ("Even Me"), and prayerful gospel/worship ("Breathe on Me," a duet with Natalie Grant), all sensibilities that Aikin commands with ease, even if the songs themselves aren't immediately memorable.
As for Aikin, she seems comfortable transitioning from these highly emotional moments, which often call for a fair share of vocal acrobatics, to others that are decidedly more subdued and nuanced. Tracks like "A Song for Jesus," "Lord You Reign Forever," and "Love Him" all seem to occur in succession for a reason: they're smooth, urban, breezy, and worshipful, not unlike recent work by Kierra Sheard and Coko.
For all its placidness, however, Crystal Aikin lacks powerhouse moments. The closest Aikin comes to displaying a diva strut is the funk fest "He's So Worthy." But then it's rare for talent show winners like this to have it all together on their first album. With further nurturing and artist development, Aikin could soon enjoy a career that far outlasts a singing competition's television run.