Friday, March 31, 2017

Trust - Jaci Velasquez


Like Michael W. Smith, Velasquez combines pop and worship with similar results.

Trust
Artist: Jaci Velasquez (www.jacivelasquez.com)
Label: Integrity Music
Length: 10 tracks/42 minutes

Easter approaches as I write. A couple of songs on Trust by Jack Velasquez are easily associated with the season. “At the cross we find healing/At the cross we find peace” Velasquez sings on “Lay it at the Cross.” But what does this symbolism represent? “At the cross we find Jesus/At the cross we find all that we ever need,” we hear in elaboration.

Velasquez sings this chorus like the beacon of light that it is. Apart from Christ’s sacrificial death, we could never be made whole and have peace with God.

The words are punctuated by a synthesizer. It also generates a swirling sound on the chorus of the opening “Trust You.” After its initial heyday in the 70s the instrument became less prominent. Is it making a comeback?

I like the feel-good vibe of “Cross”; no brooding heaviness here.

Have you heard? Trust takes a turn toward praise and worship. For those who have enjoyed Velazquez’s previous releases, there is no need to fear. She does something similar to Michael W. Smith in fusing pop with lyrics of adoration.

That may seem a little sacrilegious to some, but my concern was that this type of music can be bland and generic. Worship for the masses can lose artistic integrity.

For those who might think that popular music styles do not belong in the sanctuary, consider this. If earlier generations could enjoy Fanny Crosby’s “At the Cross,” in the reverential music of their time, why can’t a similar awe and joy be expressed in the musical language of today. That’s not to say that this is for everyone, but I enjoy how this release incorporates the style and production of Velasquez’s past releases. It’s God-ward focus makes it all the more powerful. It’s not such a radical change that fans won’t want to come along for the ride. Some tracks lean more toward pop, others more toward modern worship.

There is only one song that might be called a standard, and that a modern one, “Great Are You Lord.” It’s a beautiful duet with husband, Nic Gonzalez, lead singer of Salvador. The clean annunciation highlights the lyrics. “Great is Your Faithfulness” is an original song, not the traditional hymn.

A favorite here is “I Will Call,” which is more subdued than the opener, but this is why I like it. It has a smooth feel reminiscent of her past work. Breathy vocals and spare, ethereal sounds break into an anthem-like chorus. Part of the appeal of Velasquez is her strong voice, which firmly declares God’s truth. Words of affirmation become dynamic.

Just the thought in the title “It’s Never as Dark as it Seems” is healing. The music is not quite as compelling but suitable.

My favorite might be “Rest.” The guitar is raw and rugged. The style has a subtle 50s influence. One could argue that it doesn’t fit, but I’m so glad to hear this stripped-down, lament-like psalm: “Slow me down enough to hear your voice/Speak your words of mercy over all the noise/Quiet the lies that blind me from the truth/I am Yours, I am yours.” What sounds like a Hammond organ adds texture. The simple lines in the chorus express a common desire: “Lord, I will rest in you/Lord, I will rest in you/Trusting in all you do.”

Back to Easter. If “Lay it at the Cross” is the death side, the triumphant “Praise the King” is the life side. It celebrates the resurrection.

I like this move by Velasquez. It builds on past releases, which include expressions of praise and worship. Those are like the seed, the sprout, the bud, and now we hear the flowering.


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