Natalie Diane Grant was born on December 21, 1971 in Seattle, Washington. In 1999 she released her self-titled debut album. She has won Female Vocalist of the Year an impressive five times at the Dove Awards. Her latest and eighth studio album is HURRICANE (2013, Curb Records). Natalie says the album “is a reminder that no matter how dark the struggle may seem, we’re not alone-and hope always wins”. HURRICANE has been nominated for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for the 55th annual Grammy Awards. It was produced and arranged by her husband Bernie Herms. In the liner notes Natalie shares: “Jesus-I exist to praise You, honor You, and make You famous”.
A great pop/dance track ‘Closer to Your Heart’ starts things off. It finds Natalie conversing openly with God: “Help me be unafraid/Find my place where You are/Oh, You’ve always been enough/You’re the light in the dark/Afraid of giving up control/You are there, but I let go/You’re taking this brokenness/Making it beautiful”. The title track ‘Hurricane’ is one of two songs Natalie co-writes with Matt Bronleewe and Cindy Morgan. It is a song that offers encouragement: “Step out on the edge/Don’t be afraid of it/And when you feel the rain/Call His Name/He’ll find you in the hurricane.../There’s a place, there’s a place/You can run when you fall/And it’s all come undone/You’ll be safe in the raging storm/So just let go ‘cause you are held in His arms”.
‘For All of Us’ is an inspirational ballad that finds Luke Brown on backing vocals and uses a nine member choir. It reflects on the atonement: “The mystery of the ages/Unfolded on a hill/With the ringing of a hammer/Hope is now revealed/The very King of Heaven/Comes as a spotless Lamb/Holding all our guilt and shame/In His outstretched hands”. ‘Whisper’ reflects on our oft impatient nature: “I know I should pray/I know I should wait on You/But I’m always looking for the lightning/For the thunder crashing down/I’m always wanting easy answers/Wanna hear You speak out loud/I keep wanting something bigger/Sometimes I miss Your whisper”.
The adult contemporary ballad ‘Burn Bright’ was penned by Natalie Grant, Bernie Herms, Stephanie Lewis, and David Moffitt. It has a similar message to Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’. Here are some of the words: “You were made to shine/You were made for life/Even if you’ve lost your way/Turn and you will hear love say/You were made for more, so much more/Child of everlasting light/Made to blaze away the night/So baby burn bright/Burn bright”. ‘This is Love’ is club dance floor ready musically and finds Natalie and Missi Hale on backing vocals. It urges us to truly make a positive difference with how we live our lives: “Where there’s hatred/Show love, show love/Weak and broken/Lift them up, lift them up/If there’s despair, breathe in the peace/Help heal the wounds of another/Where darkness lives, bring forth the light/Release the chains/This is love (2X)/Let your life speak out loud/This is love/This is love/Let the heavens come down”.
‘Born to Be’ is a nice duet with Rascal Flatts lead vocalist Gary LeVox. It is a cry for spiritual renewal: “Father, heal us now/God show us how/To get back to the life that we’ve been missing/Jesus, light the way/Teach us today/To be who we were born to be/We were born then made new/We were born to be the images of You/Like the sun and the stars/So beautifully reflecting who You are/Help us dare to be the beauty that You see”. ‘Dead Alive’ was written by Sam Tinnesz and Kyle Lee. It contains these words of praise: “With precious blood/My debt was paid/Crimson love that forgave/Conquered the grave/And making the dead alive”.
‘When I Leave the Room’ was penned by Natalie, Bernie Herms, and Nichole Nordeman. It is dedicated to Natalie and Bernie’s three daughters-Gracie, Bella, and Sadie. It is a quiet, tender song: “Goodnight/Five little fingers holding mine/Take flight/Into your dreams and lullabies.../Goodnight/There will be storms that we come through/In time/We will slay dragons, me and you/I’ll always wanna hold you tight/Keep you safe with all my might/So I will leave Jesus next to you/When I leave the room”. ‘In The End’ sounds like an upbeat Crowder number. It makes use of banjo, lap steel, upright piano, hand percussion, and acoustic bass. It offers a hope-filled future to believers in Christ: “There’s coming a day the sun will always shine/He’s gonna wipe away every tear from your eyes/Hold on my brother, things are gonna get better/You’re gonna smile again/Cause we win in the end/It won’t be about streets of gold, pearly gates/Harps and wings, diamond lakes/All I know is that He’s gonna hold you, hold me/Heartache will disappear/Questions will become clear/Life will all make sense in the end”.
HURRICANE is a lyrically uplifting, encouraging album. As always, Natalie’s vocals are spot on. Few in CCM today can rival her in that department! In some ways, musically, this album is like a female version of modern era Newsboys albums. I am rating the standard ten song edition of this album 88%. The iTunes Deluxe Edition contains four extra tracks. It should also be noted that in 2005 Natalie founded Abolition International to help victims of sex trafficking worldwide. For more info visit: www.nataliegrant.com and www.abolitioninternational.org.