After years of success within both the Christian and Latin mainstream markets, appearing in Chasing Papi in one of its major roles, and tying the knot to husband, Darren Potuck, soon to be twenty-five-year-old Jaci Velasquez releases Unspoken, her most recent Christian album. This time around, Velasquez takes a bigger hand in co-writing most of the record and also does some producing. Jaci's heart really comes through in this album and is probably her most transparent work to date.
Jaci sticks to her popped-up sound that started with Crystal Clear, kicking things off with the bubbly bright "You're My God." The song is pretty much a declaration of her amazement at life and how God must be behind it all. "Jesus Is" follows, a slow-pop track outlining exactly who Jesus is to Jaci, making it one of the highlights on the album. The edgy pop sounds of "Lost Without You" reminds us all of how we need Jesus just to get through this life; there isn't another way to get along than with Jesus at our side.
Continuing the themes of identity in Christ running throughout this record, "Where I Belong" is a slightly Latin-influenced track bringing back memories of Heavenly Place. More of those drum loops find their way onto "The Real Me," a blatantly honest song about who Jaci really is. "This is the real me/ am I the girl that you want me to be/ this is the real me/ with flaws and fears of intimacy/ this is the real me." Jaci really rolls out the "R's" on "He," a Latin-laced track reminding listeners of previous songs on Crystal Clear like "You Don't Miss A Thing" or "Center of Your Love."
"Glass House," a song that seems to be thematically close in heart to "The Real Me," brings back that synthesized pop sound. "Your Friend" follows, a kind of medicre song with a weak chorus that doesn't make you want to come back for more. "Something," a tender love song of sorts about saying goodbye to a lover, falls flat on its face, and again like "Your Friend" sounds somewhat 'blah'.
Finally after nine songs, the title track, "Unspoken," hits home with a great upbeat sound, an awesome hook in the chorus, and excellent songwriting all-around. This is the highlight of the album, right alongside "Jesus Is." Speaking about prayer and not leaving anything unspoken to Him, this song reminds us all to keep the 'phone-lines' open to the Lord and never feel anything is too small for Him to know about. "I'm Alive," co-written by Cindy Morgan, comes next, featuring a pretty signature Morgan sound to it. Of course, Velasquez uses her talents to make it heartfelt praise to the One who makes us alive. The album closes out with "Shine," an interesting ending, with something that pulls you into the song. "Shine" tells us to keep shining for Christ, and at first the song might seem like a strange end, but after a while, it really becomes one of the album favorites.
Overall, Unspoken is a pretty solid record with a couple dead endings here and there, but a decent must-have for any Jaci fan, and also for newcomers. I'm sure with future albums we'll see more of Jaci's hand in the songwriting, and the maturity we can expect from an artist like Jaci Velasquez.- Review date: 09/21/04, written by Shaun Stevenson
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