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Crystal Clear
Artist: Jaci Velasquez
Label: Word Records
Length: 11 tracks/46:29 minutes

Center of Your Love

Dove® Award winner and Grammy® nominee Jaci Velasquez releases her fourth album Crystal Clear to an anxiously waiting audience.  After having successfully ventured into the Latin pop world with her Sony Discos release Llegar A Ti, Velasquez returns to her Christian pop roots with a newly-minted Latin fan base in tow while her loyal Christian fans patiently seek her homecoming.  Eager not to disappoint either club, Velasquez belts out Latin-flavored pop laced with Spanish lyrics, but carrying a Gospel message on the opener “Escuchame (Listen To Me).”  She revisits the Latin-flavored sound on “You Don’t Miss A Thing,” but never quite gets the fully authentic Latin pop sound that was present on Llegar A Ti.  Rather, the sound is closer to the self-titled Jaci Velasquez.  The album also delivers new-millennium pop with a big, clean sound that I like to call “98 Street Boys Sink Back ‘N Degrees” on songs like “Everytime I Fall.”  Then there are moments that solidify the “diva status” of this rising star, such as on the Celine Dion-flavored “Adore” and the duet with Latin star Luis Fonsi on “Come As You Are.”  Velasquez shows more versatility on this album than in the past.

The majority of Crystal Clear showcases a maturing vocalist who is getting more involved in her career, while continuing to keep a clear head regarding fame and stardom.  Velasquez wrote two of the songs here, “Escuchame” and “You Are There,” and assisted with parts of the production.  Combining the talents of Mark Heimermann and Rudy Perez, Crystal Clear is a successful blend of the two styles.  Both producers were involved in getting Velasquez to where she is today.  Heimermann produced the gold-selling Heavenly Place and Jaci Velasquez, while Perez produced Llegar A Ti, which was nominated for a Grammy®.

While not striking out into new musical or artistic territory, Crystal Clear is a carefully calculated fan-pleaser destined for commercial success.  The real test of mettle will be the album where Velasquez really stretches her lyrical and musical limits and swings for the fence instead of going for the safe base run.  This is a transitional project to solidify her two fan bases, Latin secular pop and Contemporary Christian pop.  It succeeds in what it sets out to do and sets the standard for all the newcomers on the horizon.

Zik Jackson 9/29/2000


One thing can definitely be said for Jaci Velasquez--she sure can sing!  The young gal with the powerful voice showcases it again in her fourth release Crystal Clear.  After winning over the AC Christian market with her  Heavenly Places and Jaci Velasquez cd's and then making a hit in the Latin music market with her Legar a Ti disk, Velasquez combines the influences of both with eleven songs that are upbeat, joyful and make "crystal clear" the source of her joy.   "I try to let my records reflect who I am," muses Jaci, "because I think songs are soundtracks for life; and life is very good."

Mark Heimermann is once again in the producer's seat and is joined by Latin producer Rudy Perez.  There's not much new ground broken here, but it is a collection of solid songs that will fit nicely into AC radio rotation. From ballads such as "Adore," a prayer to lay one's life before the Lord, to dance pop numbers such as "You Don't Miss a Thing" a recognition of God's knowledge of all we are, Velasquez's voice is strong and controlled.  The Latin influence is very evident.  The project opens with "Escuchame" a song written by Velasquez about the many reminders that she has gotten over the years from her mother.  "Come As You Are" is a duet with the well-known Latin singer Luis Fonzi.  Even the pop ballads such as "Imagine Me Without You" contain Latin elements such as the strains of Latin guitars. 

Jaci Velasquez is a true talent.  Her's is the standard that all of the young, female singers in Christian music are trying to attain.  So far none have reached as far. Her success in the Latin music market, and subsequent decision to continue to make her message of God's love her number one priority, is testimony to a character that is as strong as her vocal abilities.  This is not cutting edge music, but for those who enjoy light, joyful, Christian pop this disk is one to own.

Janet Friesen 9/29/2000



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