Bio (from onlylauraj.com):
Not your run of the mill artist, that’s for sure. And if you are looking for what you are used to, you won’t find it in Laura J. As a worship leader, singer/songwriter, she has recognized first hand that the world is less likely to listen to Christian and Gospel music on their own and has made it her goal to reach the mainstream music generation which is lacking moral content musically. In addition to this Laura J is adamant about being an example for the current generation of little girls and young women today who have a limited selection to choose from in this day and age. Possessing one of the most innovative and intriguing blends of R&B, Soul and even contemporary influences in her music, you cannot help but listen when you hear her. She has a way of taking her listeners on a heartfelt and soulful journey that will leave you refreshed, rejuvinated and wanting more. Inspiration at it’s best.
This is not my regular kind of music. I don’t often listen to R&B, and I don’t often listen to “worship” music, so I wasn’t expecting to like ILLUMINATE… as a matter of fact, I figured I’d probably really dislike the album. I don’t. While it’s not going to go into heavy rotation on my iPod or anything, it was far from unlikable.
If you were not paying too much attention, ILLUMINATE sounds like just about anything you’d hear on the radio or Mtv’s R&B rotation. Musically it is well produced, and Laura has both a good singing voice and also can rap – she sounds a bit like Missy Elliot when she does so. Some of the songs were catchy, and I found the harmony stuck in my head later. The production was a combination of piano, organ, some sythns and strings, and R&B drums; overall what you’d hear listening to an R&B radio station.
Once you start paying a little more attention, you realize that these R&B tracks are still about love and loss and all of those things that R&B songs are usually about, except they are about the love of God, not of some guy. Some of the songs are subtler in their approach to this message, Laura J slips it in and if you weren’t paying attention you’d not even realize that this is a spiritual song. Other tracks are much more blatant, much more what I expected from a Christian album.
There were a few things that puzzled me in listening to ILLUMINATE, namely some of the lyrics. Often they were good, subtle and with a message. Sometimes they were a bit cheesier, a bit more heavy-handed. What really puzzled me were some of what sounded to me to be references; for example, on “Airplane” Laura J sings both “so fresh so clean” and “insane in the membrane.” Last time I checked, neither Outkast nor Cypress Hill were well known for their connection to God, or even being religious at all. In fact, Cypress Hill made their name known by being pot-smoking Hispanic gangstas, which seems to me to be the other end of the spectrum from Laura J’s music… which puzzled me that this line would be dropped. If it was not there as a reference to Cypress Hill, then it was just a bad bit of writing, because anyone alive in the 90’s is immediately going to think of them upon hearing that line.
Overall, I enjoyed this album a lot more than I expected to. It was a good R&B CD (which is really not my thing in the first place), and it mostly did a good job of preaching without sounding like it was preaching. I think Laura J has a good approach to her style of music, and could go far in inspiring those people that take the time to listen to her.
Overall 6.5 / 10
ILLUMINATE for sale: http://onlylauraj.com
ILLUMINATE site: http://onlylauraj.com