- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 1 Feb
- I Will Not Be Moved
- In Better Hands
- Make It Better
- Back at My Heart
- Let Go
- Perfect People
- Our Hope Endures
- So Long
- Wonderful Life
- Make a Way
- In Christ Alone
Natalie Grant is a case study in artist development. She started out in 1999 like so many other gifted vocalists in Christian music—performing pleasant-but-forgettable pop songs that failed to leave a lasting impression or distinguish her from her peers. Today, she's on the A-list, and one of the few pop divas still active in Christian music.
What changed? Well, it certainly helps to be married to a talented producer like Bernie Herms, collaborating to stretch and shape the sound into a distinctive blend of pop and rock. But then Grant always
Three years later, Grant proves that her growth is no fluke. Taking inspiration from stories and testimonies shared through Women of Faith's Revolve Tour for teen girls,
It also finds Grant successfully varying her sound from track to track. The opening "I Will Not Be Moved" (about how brokenness grounds us) rocks harder than some might expect from a singer once compared to Celine Dion and Mariah Carey. In contrast, "Make It Matter" shows off a rowdier, electronic R&B style asking God to use our lives to make a difference. I absolutely adore the stripped-down bluesy soul of "So Long," one of those "farewell to the old self" songs performed with slick acoustic guitar, horns, percussion, and lots of playful attitude. And even though "In Christ Alone" feels a little tacked on as a token worship cover (originally from WoW Worship [Aqua]), it truly is a brilliant rendition that offers something fresh to the familiar arrangement.
All excellent, but I'd give the edge to "Back at My Heart," an anthem co-written with Matthew West that begins from a place of personal vulnerability: "Strong on the outside but coming apart at the seams/That's me/Tragically always together, but bruised underneath/That's me/I stand just to stumble, I trip on my pride/Why do I always try to hide?" It then shifts to God's role as the one who welcomes and mends us: "Patiently waiting to pick up the pieces of me/That's you/Healer of hearts when the world leaves it broken in two/That's you." It's the sort of meaningful and symmetrical songwriting that deserves to wins awards.
Wish I could say the same for every track. "Perfect People" is enjoyable, but we've heard plenty of "come as you are" songs just like it over the last 20 years. The same could be said of "Let Go" with its familiar lyrics of surrender, template Christian pop sound, and "uh-oh" hook. "Wonderful Life" is also rather typical, about enjoying the moment we're currently living, but the explosive chorus is fun.
Of course, how many pop albums do you know of where every song is a home run?