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Relentless

Natalie Grant

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Album Review

God bless Natalie Grant. After surviving two label shutdowns and constant trial-and-error, the powerhouse vocalist finally hit it big with 2005's Awaken, her best-selling fifth studio album. Before that, it was false start after false start — the singer with the big voice and even bigger Christian pop dreams couldn't seem to get her break. But Awaken was different. For the first time, Grant was finally taking the reins of her career, forging a vision of her own, handling a larger share of the songwriting duties, and opting for a more mature, pop/rock-inflected adult contemporary sound. With Relentless, Grant continues this maturation process, displaying even more artistic autonomy, aggression, and adventurousness than before. For a Christian pop diva, she's certainly taking a lot of risks here, parlaying her potent vocals with fierce pop/rock elements, plus the occasional synth effects, urban-pop affectations, and even a horn section or two. The terrific "Make It Matter" makes use of all of these components, and the result is a glorious pop song — more interesting and offbeat than a lot of today's Top 40. At times Grant is a little too indiscreet in her attempts at novelty, like on the soulful, sassy "So Long," which sounds too much like KT Tunstall's "Black Horse & a Cherry Tree" to be credited entirely to Grant. Outside of that, she appears most comfortable at delivering substantive, highly polished pop/rock ("I Will Not Be Moved," "Perfect People"), plus enough doses of Grant's own proven, signature pop balladry ("In Better Hands," "Back at My Heart") to satisfy those who fell in love with her beloved hit "Held." As a reference point, you could think of Relentless as the follow-up to Breakaway that Kelly Clarkson failed to deliver after the smash success of that album, except in a Christian pop context. Yes, it's that catchy — perhaps calculatedly so — but it's never banal or contrived, like a lot the radio-geared material being produced in the CCM market.

Biography

Born: 21 December 1971 in Seattle, WA

Genre: Christian & Gospel

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Christian vocalist Natalie Grant launched her career as a member of the Truth before moving to Nashville, TN in pursuit of a solo career. She signed with Benson Records in 1997 and began working on her self-titled debut, which was released in 1999. By the following year, though, Grant had left the label and struck up a relationship with Pamplin Music, who released her 2001 sophomore album, Stronger. When that label folded,...
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Relentless, Natalie Grant
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