Jaci Velasquez has won Dove Awards for New Artist of the Year (1997) and Female Vocalist of the Year (1999 and 2000). She is known for songs such as 'If This World', 'On My Knees', 'Un Lugar Celestial', 'God So Loved', and 'Every Time I Fall'. Like many Contemporary Christian artists she has weathered a divorce. Things turned around for her in 2006 when she married Nic Gonzales of the Christian band Salvador. The couple have two children together, Zealand and Soren. Jaci also co-hosts the syndicated 'Family Friendly Radio Show' with Doug Griffin. In the photos for her latest album DIAMOND (2012, Inpop Records) she looks beautiful.
DIAMOND begins with the title track, a great mid-tempo song written by Jaci, Chad Cates, and Tony Wood. Guitars are handled by Ron Robinson. The song finds Jaci satisfied in the Lord: "How You take an ordinary life/And fill it 'till it's full of light/Because of Your love/And I know You see straight through me/And I trust what You are doing/'Till I'm shining like a diamond." 'Give Them Jesus' written by Barry Weeks, Jason Barton, Chris Lockwood and Ronnie Freeman has a very contagious, upbeat chorus: "I wanna give them hope/I wanna give them peace/I wanna give the greatest of these/Give them love, love/I wanna tell the truth/And lead them to the light/And tell them everything will be alright/Give them love/Give them Jesus." Here we see Jaci's heart for the lost and broken. 'The Sound of Your Voice' features background vocals by Michelle Swift and Nic Gonzales, and drums by Garth Justice. Lyrically it sounds like a modern day Psalm: "The sound of Your voice echoes forever/The sound of Your voice holds us together/There's nothing more powerful/Nothing more glorious/Than the sound of Your voice/You speak calling my name/You speak and I'm never the same/How my heart thrills as You/Whisper away all my fear."
'Stay' has a bouncy beat, utilizes trumpet, trombone and saxophones and communicates the pain involved when one partner wants to leave a relationship and the other doesn't want to let go: "Though the birds are singing outside/My heart is still breaking deep inside/You and I are saying goodbye/But you just gotta stay/Hey now, hey now/We said it was you and me/But right now, somehow/I can't let you leave..../You don't have to go away/I'll be begging you to stay." 'Fall For You' written by Jaci, Tony Lucido, and John Glover, paints a picture of what a loyal friend looks like: "Hand me all your pain/And I will love you anyway/I will, I will, I will/Even 'till the end of time/Even if two worlds collide/I will never let you fall/I'll fall for you (2X)." 'Con El Viento A Mi Favor' is a powerful ballad beautifully delivered. It matters not that I have no idea what the song is about!
'Tell Me Again' has David Davidson and David Angel performing strings. It begins with these words we can all relate to as humans: "Today I had one of those days/Where every step I tried to take/Ended with me on my face/My confidence crumbles like dust/Right now my mistakes/Are so much bigger than my trust." I would love to see a concept video for 'Girl'. It is a movin' tune with saxophones, trumpet and trombone used. The song is anti-peer pressure and pro healthy self-esteem: "Fitting in can be such a fuss/But we make it a must/Can't be too real or too virtuous/Flirty eyes and flawless skin/What happened to beauty that lies within?/So here's to the girls/The tan and the fair/You're one of a kind beyond compare.../Just for a while (3X)/Just look at you/Really look at you/You're such a pretty girl." 'Trust in You' has a groovy synth bass part. In the song Jaci admits she needs more faith for the hard seasons in her life: "Everyone's afraid/When the winds start blowing/They're just winds of change/All I need to know/Is You're in control/And You know just what to do/I don't need to see/What I really need/Is a little more trust in You."
'Guilt' speaks gratefully of God's powerful forgiveness that she has experienced: "It was love that saved me/You amaze me/But I was never too far from Your reach/Yesterday can't hold me/You took control of me/Conviction's overturned and I am pure/And I'm not guilty any more." 'Good Morning Sunshine' written by Jaci, Scott Davis, and Jill Paquette is a quiet number that has Chris Bevins on piano. It closes the album with Jaci conveying her newfound joy concerning the life she's been blessed with: "Good morning sunshine, where have you been?/What took you so long?/It's good to see you again/Good morning sunshine, you feel like a dream/I have been waiting for the promise you bring/It's been a long time, ooh good morning sunshine."
In the liner notes for DIAMOND, Jaci thanks both God and her fans: "Thank You Father, for taking my life from broken to beautiful...Thank you for listening to the music and even when I didn't believe in myself as an artist, you always did. This record is yours, never doubt God CAN and WILL make beauty from ashes. You are a DIAMOND!" DIAMOND was produced by Chris Bevins and Craig Swift. The pop sounds found on it should appeal to fans of Avalon, Pink, Zoegirl, and Hilary Duff. For more info visit http://www.jacivelasquez.com/, and http://www.inpop.com/. I'm rating DIAMOND 88%.