Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Blue sky ahead

Love Out Loud
Artist: Jaci Velasquez (http://www.jacivelasquez.com/)
Label: Apostrophe Records
Length: 11 tracks/37:59 minutes

Coming across the following verse in my daily Bible reading: "Naphtali is a doe let loose, he gives beautiful words" (Gen. 49:21 NASB), I could not help thinking how applicable it seemed to Love Out Loud by Jaci Velasquez. Having come through a divorce, a season of depression, and the disillusion that comes when life no longer makes sense—next to death, three of the biggest "Ds" that you can experience—she’s now singing like a doe set free. It’s a picture of freedom, and her encouraging words are beautiful.

It starts off on a joyful note with "Nothing But Sky," a U2-like anthem. Clear blue sky depicts the outlook of someone who has come through the storms of life. There’s no clouds or rain in sight. The future looks bright.

"It’s Not You, It’s Me," another song that rocks, provides a healthy perspective. It’s the realization that we are the only person that we can control. People are not the problem as much as how we respond to them. If this sounds a little like therapy, you do find that element in some of the songs, but it’s not overdone. Velasquez went through a time of counseling and some of what she learned is reflected in her songs.

The message of the title song brings to mind another scripture. "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth" (1 John 4:18 ESV). Jaci hopes that the song will motivate others to show God’s love through service to others.

"Jesus (The Way)" is a quiet, tender song of worship. It may have an impact similar to "On My Knees," one of Jaci’s most popular songs. "My Alleluia" is a desperate longing for God to hear the heart when there are no words.

"Weightless" is one of my favorite songs. It conveys joy right from the start with a layered background vocal and a catchy piano hook that drives it. It captures the feeling of being set free from all burdens. It may bring a tear to the eye of those who long to experience this kind of freedom. Velasquez says, "There’s something that happens when you fall in line with God’s will for your life. The weight of all burdens is lifted off your shoulders." Velasquez has such a great voice for pop music, and this is a classic example. It’s pure delight.

"A Likely Story" is one that I will return to because it’s such an unusual love song. Jaci sings about her disbelief at being loved during her courtship with husband Nic. She says, "It seemed to be good to be true. Very much the way I feel about the undeserving love I receive from God."

"Tango" is rich in fiery Latin rhythms and is a metaphor for the give and take that must happen in a marriage.

"Por Escrito" is a quiet, flamingo-guitar styled duet in Spanish with husband Nic Gonzalez, frontman for Salvador.

On "Into the Light" Jaci encourages those who are down to follow her into a deeper relationship with God. A brief instrumental, "Outro," closes the CD.

This release reunites her with producer Mark Heimermann, who produced her first three recordings. He’s done an excellent job of staying true to Velasquez’s sound while modernizing it and adding touches of creativity.

There’s nothing like a personal testimony to inspire and provide hope. With Velasquez co-writing the majority of the songs, this album reflects on her life the past couple of years. It should encourage those who are going through difficult times. When you align yourself with God’s will, the clouds and rain will not last forever. There’s blue sky ahead.
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