After winning Oprah Winfrey’s one-and-only “Oprah’s Pop Star Challenge” in 2004, LaShell Griffin has been wowing listeners with her big, beautiful voice, soaring lyrics and emotional delivery. Now releasing a third album Dreams Are Possible, LaShell’s growing and dedicated fan-base will be delighted with the inspirational, vocal acrobatics that helped set this artist apart from 18.000 other contestants and catapult her to public attention.
Blending her strong faith in Jesus with danceable R&B and electro-pop tunes, LaShell had me lifting my hands to heaven as I grooved to her big, sweet sound on “I Almost Blew It.” Smooth, mellow performances are delivered on “I Don’t Judge” and “Because of Your Mercy.” The album’s title track “Dreams are Possible” serves as an ideal showcase for Griffin’s range of vocal abilities – building from a full, rich melody to a bold, open-throated chorus while backed by a veritable choir that’s filled with soul.
Not only does the disc provide ample opportunity for Griffin to move through her full vocal range, but she also presents tracks ranging from the deeply formal to surprisingly casual. “Sista' Talk” is in fact a recording of a light-hearted conversation between Griffin and her sister LaTress Tomas, before launching into a duet calling for love and reconciliation. Griffin also interposes seemingly spontaneous spoken praise, scripture and gets her preach on in the midst of her songs, encouraging listeners to lay their cares on Jesus and trust in Him.
While Griffin’s voice is a compelling instrument itself, the only track in which she’s backed by a band is on “Dreams Are Possible.” With the disc relying heavily upon synthesized music the cumulative effect can be rather synthetic (particularly when the voice transforming effects are broken out, thankfully only a few times). I’d love to hear Griffin against a rich background of instrumentation worthy of the talent she pours into her vocals.
Music is a family affair in the Griffin home. Devoted to her husband and five children, Griffin continues to involve her family in all aspects of life – including her singing career. Of the songs not written by Griffin herself, two are penned by her husband Lee (who also serves as her manager), and one by her son Raffiel. They also provide background vocals on a number of tracks. Griffin herself composed five of the songs, with an equal number contributed by Frank McGinnis.
In times such as these, Griffin’s message of holding fast to Jesus through times of trial and difficulty while believing on His promises is particularly relevant. Now I don’t know about you, but when I see a mother of five hanging in there and reaching for big dreams, I believe her when she sings, “Dreams are Possible.” Griffin herself is a living, breathing testimony to the truth of her heartfelt, voluminous assertion.
1. Live by Faith
2. Jesus Said
3. I Almost Blew It
4. I Don’t Judge
5. Dreams Are Possible
6. This 2 Shall Pass
7. Man from Galilee
8. Because of Your Mercy
9. Sista Talk
10. Way Back When
11. Every Day
12. From the Night to the Light (poem)
13. Live by Faith (remix)