Jaci Velasquez

Diamond

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Jaci Velasquez's 2008 release Love Out Loud found the worship singer eschewing the Brit-pop influence that served as the core of her previous album, Beauty Has Grace, in place of the more glossy, radio-friendly sound that brought the 32-year-old her greatest successes. But for her newest full-length, Diamond (and her first for indie label Inpop), Velasquez attempts to split the difference between the two sides of her modern musical personality. For the CCM lovers, there's straightforward fare like "Give Them Jesus" and the languid, piano-driven album closer "Good Morning Sunshine." And for those who like a little grit, the blasts of horn and swaggering beat of "Girl" and the soulful "Stay" give listeners plenty to chew on. Combined, the result is a somewhat jarring listening experience, jumping from feather-light pop to blasting to the cheap seats drama rock. In that respect, Diamond feels a little too self-conscious, too concerned about what the commercial prospects of the album would be rather than making a bold artistic statement. There's no denying the power and effect of many of the songs here, but Velasquez would likely have much more impact if she were to go further out on a limb.

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