Yolanda Adams

Mountain High...Valley Low

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Yolanda Adams is too beautiful and talented to have escaped the bickerings of some narrow-minded people within the gospel community. She has been criticized in the past both for her manner of dress (more glamorous than seductive) and for her "secular" music (which focuses on faith-driven lyrics while branching out into R&B and pop styles). With the release of Mountain High. . .Valley Low, her first album on a major, mainstream record label, it would seem that she has provided her attackers with their most potent ammunition ever. The album has been heavily promoted by Elektra Records, and has world-class producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and Keith Thomas stretching Adams' musical boundaries further than ever. While at times they take her in strange directions (the hip-hop flavor on "Time to Change" sounds like a lost track from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill), each song, taken independently, works. The album is incredibly varied and makes use of a full grab-bag of effects, from heavy over-dubbing (on some tracks Adams is singing up to three layers of vocals at the same time, while backup vocalists add even more textures) to swelling pop-orchestra string lines to funky electronic effects. The bottom line, though, for critics and fans alike, is the message. Before they crank up their pitching arms the stone throwers should take note: this is an incredibly inspirational album in which every song focuses on spreading the message of Jesus. Adams just gets to have a lot of fun along the way. In a time when most gospel albums don't make a dent in music sales outside of the Christian community, an artist with Adams' kind of appeal is a blessing, not a curse.

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