While known as a crack Nashville songwriter, Beth Nielson Chapman works inside the pop realm on You Hold the Key, her second effort for Reprise. But pop for Chapman isn't all easy-to-digest nuggets. A talented songwriter, she moves in fluid motion between hearty pop, heart-tugging piano balladry, and burnished adult contemporary groove. She flirts with smoky piano jazz on the coy "Dance With Me Slow," imbues the first-person, fibrous title track with uplifting grace, and sells the smooth Paul Carrack duet "In the Time It Takes" with precision. But she's just as comfortable with the brassy, Bonnie Raitt-style blues-rock of "You Say You Will" or the quietly surging "Faithful Heart," where violins, harp, pipes, and a reverent choir of voices combine with her own fervent vocal for a truly moving experience. It's all in a day's work for Chapman, a wonderful performer who elevates the few scant weak moments of You Hold the Key with pure talent.
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus