Rachael Lampa - Rachael Lampa (CD)
- New Factory Sealed
- 2004 Word
It's truly inspiring to see this powerhouse teen singer develop into more of an overall artist on her third release, having a hand in writing each of the tracks on a collection that covers the waterfront stylistically, from torchy ballads to blues-rock and ska. The good news about having a powerhouse producer like Tommy Sims guide her is that the extreme pop production and universal themes should make it easier for the artist to cross over beyond the CCM boundaries. But there is a slight negative despite the immense likableness, lyrical maturity, and strong melodies that resonate here. Sims tends to overwhelm her with his sonic booms, from the rock guitar flourishes and drawn-out ending of "All This Time" to the extreme thump and horns of "Rubber House" that overshadow the socially conscious intrigue of the lyrics; the song and its production seem too patterned after Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" to get the deep point across. Even songs that begin with Lampa fully confident and in charge sometimes get lost as the textures mount; both she and Robert Randolph's pedal steel soul have to compete for attention on the anthemic "The Good Life." Fortunately, Sims holds back on the handful of exquisite ballads, allowing Lampa to shine and wring every last emotion out of "No Other One" (perhaps the ultimate love song to the Creator), "You Never Know" (where the optimism shines through), and "The Art," a rich slice of Mariah Carey-influenced pop inspiration that Lampa composed on her own; the strings rising around her come in just the right doses. Somewhere in the middle between overkill and restraint is another great cut, the country-folk-rock-flavored "Honest," which jangles happily along and allows her to stretch vocally. A little more Rachael Lampa and a little less razzle-dazzle would make this a greater triumph.