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A myriad of musical style that'll change your perspective
on March 6, 2002
What happens when you look at the world through a Kaleidoscope? You see things a bit differently. The same happens when you listen to Rachael Lampa's sophomore CD of the same name. Instead of the meshing of colors, you get meshing of genres of music and instruments. And all the fragments of song topics are slightly different parts making up one whole picture -- the Christian life.
After seeing four songs from her debut CD reach number one on all three formats of Christian radio (inspirational, adult contemporary, and hit radio), Rachael is not unaccustomed to musical diversity. But if her first album can be called musically diverse, prepare for even more disparity on this new album...even within the individual songs themselves. Shaken one way, you'll hear signature power ballads like "No Greater Love" and "Give Your Heart Away," with the distinct grand piano of the London Symphony Orchestra. Turn it just right, and you'll hear techno/house funk with deep bass on songs like "For Your Love" and the opening piece, "Savior Song." Just a slight twist and there's Gospel/blues "Beautiful" and "Sanctuary" complete with choirs.
In keeping with the theme, Rachael's vocal styling changes somewhat with each song...you'll hear Mariah Carey-esque histrionics, sprinkles of Whitney Houston's Gospel alto, Christina Aguilera soul, even Britney Spears-style techno/funk (and I mean that in the best way possible). That's not to say Rachael isn't comfortable with her own style...in fact this album shows Rachael is developing a signature style of her own that permeates the entire recording.
Having seen her debut album break sales records, and heralding rave reviews from both Christian and secular media alike, perhaps the biggest question on Rachael's friends' (her term, not liking the word "fan" to describe her legions of supporters) minds is "Is it as good as the first?" While difficult to discern, the album is at least on par with the debut. There is definitely no "sophomore slump" here. What made the debut work so wonderfully makes this album work just as well -- the London Symphony Orchestra, the production talents of Brent Bourgeois and Brown Bannister, the smorgasboard of Christian writing talent and the diversity of genre all remain (albeit that is taken to the next level now). Yet the few details missing from the first are now here. First, we are treated to Rachael's own songs -- songs that she herself penned. However, listening through the album without first knowing the lyricists, one would hazard it difficult to guess which five songs she co-wrote...her ability to inhabit a song and take full ownership of is clearly evident. That, coupled with the fact that her songs are also diverse -- one Gospel ("Sanctuary") two pop ("I'm All Yours" and "Lead Me (I'll Follow)"), one power ballad ("Give Your Heart Away"), one an intriguing mix of deep house/funk/R&B ("A Song for You").
One other thing missing from her debut was a unified theme. Ironically, the theme for Kaleidoscope is truly living for God. The listener is taken through all the stages. From "Lead Me" to "Give Your Heart Away" to "Savior Song" to "Brand New Life" to "Sanctuary" to "No Greater Love" to "I'm All Yours," even the titles make it evident that the theme here is salvation...God's calling and touch at all the stages. And for those who complain about the lack of "Jesus" in modern Christian music, our Savior's name is used in more than once on this album.
Comparisons and a unifying theme aside, this album truly is different, yet it also seems so familiar. The only trouble I forsee with this album is its genre diversity -- those with definitive stylistic preferences may end up skipping some songs; but music afficionados will, even upon its first play, discover this album is a masterpiece of modern Christian music by an artist and instrument of God's choosing who will be around for many years to come.