Reviewed by Phil Thomson
For anyone catching up with this unstoppable Latino, these two albums, released two years apart, offer all the proof you might need of her credentials. Platinum sellers, Grammies, constantly in demand - and all because the lady's voice can break your heart. Of course, you need the songs, but she could sing the telephone directory and you would melt. Put simply, she makes brooding, breathy magnificent music. 'Unspoken' saw out 2003 with a range of wonderfully written, sumptuously recorded songs which just grow and grow with every play - amongst which "Lost Without You" stands out. Wisely, she plays down her Latin roots, and this is one of the strengths of her appeal, with the merest hint in the treatment of a mid-album "He", where Jesus is reassuringly seen as being a part of the street culture as well as dwelling in her heart - demonstrating how she seems untroubled by complex lyrics and drives the concepts home with not-so-quiet sophistication. Perhaps there are forgivable lapses, such as the wandering, schmaltzy "I'm Alive" which feels like a bit of a filler and the big-finish "Shine" with it's "Shine" choral outro and over-reaching gospel affirmation. But it is all evenly paced and of its time. 'Beauty Has Grace', on the other hand, knows what it is there to do. It's fast and furious and completely absorbing. Quite simply, it doesn't put a note out of place. Yes, one or two tracks get slushed up just a wee bit by clever string arrangements here and there, or a strategically mis-placed jazz motif (they just can't help themselves) but this is by now edgy, crossover rock which has every bit of you waiting for the anger, for the wake-up call. It's that silky, slightly whimsical voice which scolds and exhorts and pleads its way into your soul - a perfect foil to the tight fusions and subtle blows which rain on your senses. You can tell there is more discipline in the editing, a far greater confidence in the "sound", more light and shade in the way she makes her point - with no better example than the sensitive "Lay It Down", a beautiful show-stopping ballad on which there is a co-writing credit to our own - and ubiquitous - Chris Eaton. An absolutely cracking release. Four years on, I assure you, there is even more to crow about. A great listening experience.
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|Unspoken, from Jaci’s earlier years, share a message about life and faith with a fresh, edgy sound, and rock-solid lyrics, giving listeners a glimpse of who she is and what's important to her. Also a studio recording, the second CD in this special offer is from when Jaci headed to London and teamed up with British producer Martin Terefe. It is full of fresh harmonies, inventive production, and profound lyrics and has a refreshingly organic sound that reveals a very different musical and lyrical side of Jaci, dealing with God’s great love, her personal struggle, and joy.