Music Review: Beautiful Awakening

Does anyone remember Stacie Orrico’s song “I’m Not Missing You?” One of the most popular songs of 2006, this upbeat pop/R&B track was different from any other breakup song. Instead of lamenting the relationship that once was, the lyrics talk about leaving behind the past and moving on with your life after a breakup. It was a very awesome song– and, 10 years later, still remains in my personal music playlist.

How would I describe Stacie’s follow-up album, Beautiful Awakening? It’s different. In a very good way.

Previously known for her inspirational Christian anthems such as “Without Love,” and the 2003 hit single, “More To Life,” the singer decided to enter the secular music industry. In 2004, Stacie took some time away from the glitz and glamour of fame to truly discover herself; and it was during this time that she wrote about 55 songs for the Beautiful Awakening project, 12 of which ended up on the album.

Needless to say, there are a lot of songs about relationships. (But nowhere near the level of, say, a typical Taylor Swift song)

The opening track, “So Simple,” starts off with an urban, R&B feel (similar to Nelly Furtado or Tori Kelly), and is about enjoying the simpler pleasures in life: family, walking in the rain, and learning new things. Lyrically, it’s one of the few songs that is more complex.

For the writer of ballads like “Dear Friend” and “Strong Enough” – at the tender age of 14 and 16, respectively – it seems pretty… superficial… to now just write songs about ex-boyfriends, like Taylor Swift has done. However, these songs are still pretty good. Some are better than others– for example, “Easy To Luv You,” “Take Me Away,” and “Don’t Ask Me To Stay.” But a lot of the tracks, specifically “Save Me,” “Is It Me” and “Dream You,” are just your average pop/R&B love songs that you would hear on mainstream radio… and I wouldn’t run out to buy them if they were released as standalone singles.

There are a few tracks that, much like “So Simple,” are lyrically complex. “Babygirl,” one of the better tracks, is Stacie’s shout-out to teen moms. It has this awesome urban feel, which I love. She explores new musical dimensions in “Wait” and the closing track “Beautiful Awakening,” which are R&B ballads with soul influences… and a twinge of… country? Yes, it’s true that some of these songs– with a bit of instrumental editing– sound like they could be played on country radio!

And there is one more stand-out track, that LITERALLY stands out from the majority. I Can’t Give It Up” is a very personal account of Stacie’s struggle to abstain from sex; a song that is basically the antithesis¬†of everything you hear on pop radio these days. “Now in this moment candles burnin’ oh, it’s so easy/ Got me compromising with my sexuality/ And I know that you and I have got a real good thing/ But when I pause, think it over/ It ain’t right, gotta tell ya…” It’s a rare occurrence to hear songs with lyrics like that on the radio.

All in all, these songs are innocent and fun. It’s the kind of album you can pop into your stereo or play on your iPod when you’re doing homework or studying for a test. I like that this album was based entirely on personal experiences– even if the subject matter is more mature, and even if there are more than a few love songs. For this reason, Beautiful Awakening gets 4/5 stars from me.

(Now, it’s interesting to note that this album was never released in the U.S. or Canada, due to the 2006 merging of Virgin Records with Capitol. However, if you live in Ireland, you can find it on iTunes)

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