There are times when a burgeoning artist may get caught in the machinations of the recording industry, and the resulting product that gets released may not truly reflect her or his vision or personality. Kara Williamson seems to have had this experience. In 2002, she released a debut disc full of percolating dance-pop numbers under the single moniker of Kara. That persona and sound apparently felt like a musical masquerade, and for her second disc Williamson has boldly shed that fabricated layer to expose herself Undisguised. For this new phase in her recorded career, Williamson reattaches the last name and reveals herself as a singer/songwriter with the heart of a rocker. This pronouncement is immediately felt in the forceful opening song, "Bring It On," where the quiet plunked notes of a piano crash into a chorus of guitars. This time around, Williamson makes her message heard in a style more in tune with Michelle Branch or Kelly Clarkson, rather than the plastic beats from her debut. The change is highly successful, with Williamson sounding more natural, comfortable, and confident in this new format. Although the balance of songs on Undisguised do not rock quite as hard as "Bring It On," there are strong numbers throughout the disc. The perfect pop of "Where You Are" is ripe for radio airplay, while the opening lick of the Romantics' hit "Talking in Your Sleep" is the driving force behind "Love Is for Always." If there is a flaw, it is that the ballads do not quite reach the level of intensity needed to match the quality pop/rockers. Only "Dear Performer," a chronicle of the changes she has experienced recently, comes closest to hitting the right tone. As a co-writer of half the tunes, Williamson has put a lot of herself into this disc, and it has paid off. Her warm voice and shimmering new sound have brightly merged to convey the strength of her faith. With Undisguised, Kara Williamson has tossed off the mask to let her true identity shine. More artists should pay attention and have the courage to do the same.
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AllMusic Review by Aaron Latham