Music Review: Jamie Grace, "Hold Me" EP
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Label: Gotee Records
· Official Site
by Paul Schultz
Published: February 22, 2011
Jamie-Grace Harper has already led an interesting life. The 19-year-old Atlanta, Georgia native could merely be seen as a college student learning children’s ministry. This would hide the fact that she was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at age 11, and has since traveled the country sharing her story of struggle and faith through music and speaking engagements.
As a musician, she has taught herself to play guitar, drums, piano and ukulele, and appeared on Trinity Broadcasting Network's iShine KNECT television program and corresponding Christian music tween tour event. In fact, if you got the iShine All Starz 2010 CD, you would have heard Jamie Grace's contribution, "Heads Up."
“These songs are my heart songs,”
she says, “straight off the pages of
my diary. Very simple, very chill,
but very fun. It’s what I think about,
and what gets me through.”
As a speaker and performer, she will join the likes of Britt Nicole, Hawk Nelson, and Group 1 Crew on this spring's “Revolve: Dream ON!” tour organized by Women of Faith, a non-denominational Christian women's conference. At age fifteen she founded GraceTalk, a devotional group for teen girls. Oh, yeah, and she graduated high school early.
And then she was discovered by dc Talk alum Toby McKeehan and signed to his Gotee Records label.
Hold Me EP is a four-song appetizer to tide you over until a full project release comes in the fall of 2011. The title track was written by Harper, McKeehan, and producer Christopher Stevens. It features McKeehan's hip-hop alter ego tobyMac and I had to crack up as the title track started, because it seemed like he was going to sing the chorus to Neil Sedaka's "Calendar Girl." It was close, but not quite. Instead, it progresses into a catchy acoustic guitar and faux hand clap nugget with tobyMac relegated to background vocal support and Jamie Grace's capable, curiously-accented voice and nifty harmonizing with herself.
What if I stumble and imagine a young female fronting dc Talk? That mystery is solved with the inclusion of her cover of "Into Jesus" from 1998's Supernatural, the album that followed up their best-selling Jesus Freak. It was rather a brave move, even if the entire EP has the dc Talk style splashed all over it. Still, Jamie Grace speeds it up a bit and gives it a funky update that is altogether charming.
"One Song at a Time" is a piano-riffic pop confection co-written by Harper with tobyMac and a couple members of his road band DiverseCity, Gabe Patillo and Dave Wyatt. The aforementioned Patillo goes by the handle GabeReal and engages in a dandy self-referential back-and-forth breakdown on this feel-good hip hop track with a sprinkle of reggae phrasing.
|Jamie-Grace, "Hold Me" EP
|1. Hold Me (feat. tobyMac)
2. Into Jesus
3. One Song at a Time (feat. GabeReal of DiverseCity)
4. Holding On (Lo-fi Version)
The disc closes out quietly with “Holding On,” a piano ballad written by Matt Hammitt of Sanctus Real, tobyMac, Jamie Moore, and Cary Barlowe (the latter co-penned country sensation Lady Antebellum's #1 hit "American Honey"). This song seizes the true flexibility of Jamie Grace as a vocalist as she expresses this down-tempo leitmotif of faithful diligence with heartfelt passion ("Give me the strength to fight and the heart to believe when it's hard to believe in You").
The Hold Me EP does exactly what it purports to do: introduce the audience to a rising new talent, and build anticipation for more. This listener is always a sucker for a good hook, and Jamie Grace has grabbed me with this small set of standout performances that have me awaiting the turning of autumn leaves with expectancy.