The newest addition to the Gotee Records family, Stephanie Smith, seems to be a perfect fit for the label's diverse line-up of artists. Smith's upbeat pop/rock style is perfectly crafted to reach a young audience of teens and tweens as well as garner some serious radio play. Smith's debut, Not Afraid, could position her as Christian music's newest breakout star.
Not Afraid, as a whole, is a very solid debut record. Most of the tunes are enjoyable and share a positive message. Stephanie Smith seems to be focused on encouraging and reaching young women, especially teenage girls. The opening track, "Beauty" kicks off the album proclaiming "Hello world, here I am today/ I didn't feel like putting on make-up, is that okay?/ And you know what else? I didn't do my hair/ And I didn't take the time to figure out what to wear...beauty is in you, so just embrace it, you don't have to chase it." Smith's non-conforming message set to rock music is similar to the likes of BarlowGirl and Krystal Meyers. While no doubt written with good intentions, "Superstar" is a slightly overwhelming song, nearly shouting, "You know what you are, a superstar!"
Though these few songs are seemingly cliché for a young female musician to write, Smith at the same time offers several excellent songs for the listener's pleasure. The title track and "Waitin on You" both have a strong upbeat rock vibe to it, much like a good deal of Not Afraid. The power pop sounding "Over It" tells a heartbreaker that it's time to leave, while "In My Eyes" is a straight-up rock song admitting personal pain. "You Alone" and "What If I Made a Mistake" are both gentler tracks, displaying Smith's beautiful and versatile voice.
Stephanie Smith seems to be off to a strong start with a popular single at radio ("Not Afraid"), a good deal of media coverage, and many upcoming tour dates. She is a great young talent with a positive message who has a bright future ahead of her.- Review date: 5/25/08, written by Lauren Summerford of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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