Now in her 30s, Jaci Velasquez is well-known to fans of Christian pop music. A child star, she performed at the White House when she was 13 and sold 4 million albums before turning 21. She also remains the only artist associated with the Christian music scene to have scored No. 1 "crossover hits" on the Latin pop charts. Although she competes with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira for Latin music awards, her style has always had more in common with adult contemporary singers like Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Gloria Estefan.
On her latest album, Diamond (EMI, 2012), Velasquez delivers a strong set of songs that seek to relate her faith to simple matters of daily life, as well as to profound questions of ultimate significance. The title track describes how the light of God's love creates beauty in any person's life. The implications of that theme are then expressed in a more lighthearted vein in a bouncy song that mocks the mixed messages young women often receive about what constitutes beauty ("Girl").
Other explicitly religious songs reflect on the surety of God's salvation ("Trust in You"; "Guilt") and the urge Christians feel to share this with others ("Give Them Jesus"). The high point comes with "Con El Viento A Mi Favor," a hopeful anthem sung in Spanish about moving forward in life after a time of feeling wounded and depressed.
For many listeners, the highlights will be two lullabies Velasquez wrote for her young boys ("Stay"; "Good Morning Sunshine"). Here she seems vulnerable and unconcerned with exhibiting her impressive talent. Instead of anthemic vocals or theological reflection, we get sweet, sentimental expressions of a mother's love for little ones she knows won't be little for long.
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