Jeremy Camp Remains Close to Prototype on "Restored"

Artist:   Jeremy Camp
Label:  BEC

Like most breakout artist stories, it didn’t all happen immediately. But after the release of "Stay" in 2002, it wasn’t too long before a young Indiana native named Jeremy Camp quietly became the darling of the Christian music industry.

With a myriad of multi-format radio hits to his credit (Six No.1 songs resulted from "Stay."), impressive sales of more than 525,000 albums and two Dove Awards this past spring for “New Artist of the Year” and “Male Vocalist of the Year,” expectations for what serves as Camp’s true sophomore follow-up ("Carried Me:  The Worship Album" was recorded for his fans at the same time as "Stay" as an homage to his praise roots.) are bound to be high — both industry-wide and with fans, given all his recent accolades.

So now that we’ve got that pesky subject of expectations out in the open, here’s exactly what you really want to know: How does "Restored" stack up?

In terms of production, the overall sound of "Restored" feels more like a big-budget blockbuster than the indie rock feel of "Stay." There are richer musical textures, several strategically placed string arrangements that add to the songs without being musically manipulative and extra emphasis devoted to what proves to be the most effective instrument of all in the mix: Camp’s voice.

Shedding most of the gritty bravado that drew almost instant comparisons to former Creed front man Scott Stapp, Camp’s vocal performance solidifies why he was voted as the industry’s top male vocalist. He sounds amazing, whether he’s singing a pretty ballad like “Even When” or a more aggressive, muscle-packed anthem like “Breath.”

As far as the songs themselves go, Camp has remained pretty close to prototype with something for everyone — from college students to soccer moms. Mostly alternating between mid-tempo, radio-friendly tunes with power choruses like “Take Me Back” and “Be the One,” Camp also serves up more adult-contemporary fare in the realm of chart-topper “I Still Believe” and a couple of full-on rockers such as “Lay Down My Pride” to keep his hard music-loving brethren entertained.

While the music remains relatively consistent (occasionally even indistinguishable from one song to the next) and cohesive throughout the album’s duration, one gets the feeling that these songs’ message far outweighs the sonic palette in priority. Like "Stay," Camp translates a chapter from his own life into song with "Restored": a faith-affirming, clear-cut message for Christians that addresses the tension of serving God in a sinful world, looking to God for strength and constantly acknowledging the priceless gift of grace He gave us through the sacrifice of Jesus.

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