Earlier this year, former Group 1 Crew member Blanca released her first solo project called Who I Am--a five song EP featuring a few different styles. Her self-titled debut fleshes out that EP, adding nine new songs that continue with that same attitude of exploration. Though this album dabbles in many genres, it finds its home base in a straightforward pop sound that fits her joyful personality and soothing vocals.
"Different Drum" sets up the upbeat and cheerful album perfectly with a marching band influenced beat and a "break the mold" message that lays the groundwork for the album's main theme-finding your identity in Christ. That eternally important message is front and center on "Who I Am," but its encouraging intentions are hindered by an uninspiring radio-pop backdrop and unconvincing lyrical delivery. Aided by Lecrae's rap talents, Blanca is quick to regain her footing with "Get Up"--a fun hip-hop song about spreading the Gospel.
"Catching Fire," "Sunshine" and "Not Backing Down" carry the middle of the track list nicely--even if they don't offer anything original thematically. The transitions between these three songs can be a little jarring, bouncing between disco, island and hip-hop, but each genre is pulled off with catchy beats and talented vocal prowess (love that falsetto on the highlight "Catching Fire"). The unoriginality is more noticeable in the last few tracks, causing the end of the album to lose momentum. Even still, weaker songs such as "Today" and "Greater Is He" are enjoyable to listen to with their pleasant vocals and hopeful songwriting.
Blanca's beautiful voice and diverse collection of styles make the first few listens exciting, but several more spins reveal that the album is less memorable than those initial impressions suggest. There are a few stand-out tracks, such as "Different Drum," "Get Up" and "Catching Fire," but none of them have the deep impact of some her Group 1 Crew songs (such as "He Said" and "Forgive Me"). Nevertheless, this self-titled release is pretty fun and marks a promising new journey for this 29-year-old singer.- Review date: 5/2/15, written by Christopher Smith of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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