'Passionate,' 'inspiring,' and maybe 'relentless' are the words to describe Natalie Grant, but I'm afraid the word 'prompt' when concerning albums wouldn't make it very high on the list. Setbacks dropped her latest album, Relentless, almost three years after her previous and very popular project, Awaken. However, Natalie Grant's time preparing for her third album with Curb Records hasn't taken any emotion out of the ballads that fans of the three-time Female Vocalist of the Year have come to expect.
Rather than stick with one or two simple genres, Grant tests her limits as she brings a variety of styles to the playing field, including pop, medium rock, adult contemporary, and even a hint of hip hop on one track. Surprisingly, there are no real worship songs this time around, save for the hymn "In Christ Alone." One thing that sticks out (and what made her popular in the first place) about Grant's music is her emotional and (occasionally overly) dramatic songs, and she certainly doesn't mess with success. The first single, "In Better Hands," has a lot in common with Grant's smash hit "Held" as they both center around the piano and include soaring vocals. She also tried her hand at rock a few times, but the most prominent is the single "I Will Not Be Moved." The single, which showcases a lot of twang in Grant's voice, also reveals, that while Grant can rock, her contemporary pop outlook on up-tempo music will never produce cutting edge rock.
Grant's popularity can be attributed to her solid voice which shines throughout the album and particularly on the ballad "Safe." The wild cards on Relentless may surprise fans musically, like the upbeat, but slightly laid-back "Make It Better" and, especially, "So Long," which features a hip-hop flair similar to that of Mary Mary's song "Shackles." Natalie Grant is usually very mature with her music, but she provides energy as she goes all out for the catchy tune "Let Go." The single "Our Hope Endures" is very dramatic but lacks the overall strength that "In Better Hands" contains.
The key phrase and the inspiration for the title can best be summed up by Natalie Grant herself: ‘God is relentless because His love for us is limitless, unconditional and undying.' That theme definitely plays a part on tracks like "Make A Way" (a song about a girl who left home in pursuit of fame but found hard years instead, and eventually found Christ) and "Our Hope Endures," which deals with the hope we can have when the darkest time hits. "I Will Not Be Moved" is taken from Psalm 62:2 and also contains a couple of lines from the hymn "My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less", and "So Long" reflects on the redemption and her past self ("Apathy, hunting me/Like some contagious disease/Hypocrisy hiding in the shadows… Those stains of my history are gone, gone, gone").
However, while Natalie Grant offers hopeful anthems throughout Relentless, the songwriting isn't flawless. The shallow lyrics of "Wonderful Life" ("Is a perfect day to be alive/So no more waiting now" is the deepest line) are not particularly impressive and "Make It Matter" is a little too cliché ("Take my life and lift me up to the sky/Take my dreams and help me to fly").
Except for the over stocked ballads and over dramatized tunes, her album is both surprisingly musically sound and diverse, making Relentless a solid listen from beginning to end. However, the album as a whole is not its without faults because in the midst of the sweet sound of her songs there is lacking lyrical depth, and some of her songs could have used more substance. That aside, Relentless should please fans and also attract new ones.- Review date: 5/20/09, written by Nathaniel D. Schexnayder of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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