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Artist: Natalie Grant
Label: Curb Records
Time: 13 tracks/54:21 minutes
Awaken is an appropriate title for the latest recording from Natalie Grant.  It reflects the change in her life and serves as a challenge to her audience.  The catalyst for it all was an episode from her favorite TV program “Law and Order”.  In a dramatic way it showed the horrors of human trafficking­the trade of persons across borders or within a country for the most inhumane, involuntary servitude.  What Natalie saw stirred her to not only do something but gave her a passion to live more fully­to extend her boundaries as a believer and an artist.
Her new passion comes through loud and clear on Awaken.  Like a number of Christian artists of late, her music on this release takes on a harder edge.  The opening chords of “Something Beautiful” immediately call to mind Switchfoot’s smash single “Meant To Live”.  She moves further from big voice, adult contemporary music toward a more modern rock/pop sophistication.  The singing, the musicianship, the production, and the artistry are all first-rate.     
Many of the songs on _Awaken_ are about living life to the fullest.  About half of them are co-written by Grant, just another indicator of how much she has come into her own on this recording.  “Home” was written for the many young girls who are victims of sexual slavery.  “You keep watching the rain come down/pretty princess, broken crown/and your dreams…/but don’t you know they’ve brought you here somehow/All you need to know is you’re home.”
“The Real Me,” written by Grant, is a beautiful song about being vulnerable, abandoning our efforts to conceal who we are inside.  “Held” is an affirmation of God’s tender care during times of difficult, inexplicable losses.  In contrast to the many issue-driven songs, “You Move Me” is a straightforward expression of praise to God.  The closing song, “Bring It All Together,” is a rousing gospel-flavored duet with Wynonna Judd.  There’s not a wasted song.
Grant is bound to make new fans with this recording while retaining those who already appreciate her work.  Awaken deserves a wide audience, and her work to help victims of modern day slavery is worthy of support.      
Michael Dalton
April 3, 2005



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