25-year old singer/songwriter Kendall Payne has been absent from the music scene for a few years now. Despite the buzz that she received early on in both the CCM and secular markets, it's been six years since the release of her debut Jordan's Sister. The extended period of silence stemmed from Kendall parting ways with both Capitol Records and her Christian label counterpart (Sparrow). What emerged from that trying circumstance is her appropriately titled sophomore album Grown. Originally released independently in September 2004, Grown has been re-released nationally in 2005 with additional tracks.
Being an album penned from a period of rejection and soul-searching, Grown is unmistakably introspective in its lyrical scope. The album is filled with songs about change, the unpredictability of life and starting over, but is not devoid of hope in any way. In fact, a strong undercurrent of hope runs through the album, carried along by Kendall's deep reliance on faith through hard times. This is best expressed in the new song "Stand," an exuberant declaration of faith in Jesus Christ and her commitment to follow Him when there is nowhere else to go.
The album's faith-driven and introspective vibe is further enhanced by the songs' tasteful acoustic arrangement. The opener "Scratch," a bluesy confession about second chances, is introduced by the solemn strains of a cello, while the whimsical "Ups & Downs" is carried along as much by its happy melody as it is by the acoustic guitars. Even upbeat rockers, like the new addition "Rollercoaster," never lose touch of their acoustic base amid the driving backbeats.
Grown's stripped-down musical approach allows its vulnerability to shine through clearly. This is a lyrically driven album, yet the music never takes a backseat to its heartfelt lyrics. Instead, it allows them to shine through, drawing the listeners closer to what Kendall has to say. "I thought I could change the world with a song," she sings on "Scratch." Kendall's songs may not have changed the world, but they are a warm invitation into hers. These songs reflect a world that has grown and changed over the past few years - one that is vulnerable, yet full of hope at the same time. For anyone going through a similar period of transition, this album is highly recommended.- Review date: 9/27/05, written by Sherwin Frias
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