Gotee Records has never been a particularly conventional label. Covering a variety of genres, the label has offered many musical approaches to listeners for their choosing, so much so that it's hard to label Gotee with any one specific style. With TobyMac at the helm of the label, who's own solo work has demonstrated a wide variety of styles, some artists heavily influenced by the dc Talker are undoubtedly going to be (or already have been) signed, and singer/songwriter Jamie Grace fits the bill perfectly. The four-song Hold Me EP provides a first glance at this new artist and what she has to offer.
Just like the label's, defining Jamie's sound is difficult, but the opening title track tells the listener all they need to know about her approach. With an acoustic guitar in hand and a slick poppy production in the back, it's feel-good hip hop/R&B goodness with her own spin. Legitimately strong vocals are at center stage, with both acoustic guitars and solid beats at the core. With TobyMac's heavy production to top it off, one could think of a more upbeat Poema with hip hop tendencies and get a somewhat accurate picture of Jamie Grace's approach. Indeed, it's a unique style, but given her producer and label, it leaves little of a surprise.
Christ-centered lyrics work their way throughout Hold Me EP; starting with the praiseworthy "Hold Me," "One Song at a Time" (featuring GabeReal of TobyMac's Diverse City band) follows suit musically and lyrically. "Holding On" tones things down quite a bit, leading off with pianos and sparse percussion for a song of perseverance in the faith. This contrast shows great versatility with Jamie Grace's musical talents, effectively delivering a ballad without it being forced. Lastly on the EP is a cover of dc Talk's "Into Jesus;" it's a daring move to perform the famous song as such a new artist, but the song is faithful to the original while also keeping it fresh with her own style.
Preview projects such as these do exactly what they are meant to do: give listeners a first look into a new artist without much financial investment. In Jamie Grace's case, we could see a very promising career in the making; her vocals are solid, and her lyrics, while sometimes lacking in complexity, are rich in meaning. Though it's shamelessly tainted with dc Talk influence all throughout the project, there's not too many others who carry Jamie's sound, revealing this distinctiveness as a major asset. What's presented in Hold Me EP is fine enough for a quick listen, but listeners will get a better idea of Jamie Grace's talent with her full-length album to be released tentatively later this year.
- Review date: 2/20/11, written by Roger Gelwicks of Jesusfreakhideout.com