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Beautiful - Click to view!Ginny's latest release marks a step forward in the evolution of her artistry. In spite of her 2000 Dove award for Best New Artist, her previous full-length ventures could best be described musically as the search for a signature sound. The search ends with Beautiful. On her website, Ginny posts an open letter to her fans in lieu of a bio. In it she describes the album as "a comfortable pair of jeans," and its sound as "old soul." I'm inclined to agree. This album is noticeably more relaxed than her prior work, and it projects an air of comfort and confidence that was somewhat lacking before. Gone are the abrupt course changes from R&B to hip-hop to Spiritual. Instead, the listener is treated to a cohesive, more mature sound reminiscent of Stevie Wonder, whom Ginny cites as a long-time influence.

The sound is not the only thing displaying a new maturity. Ginny's continued ability to express her stories such that they become "our" stories is accented by songwriting that delves into deeper, more personal areas of her soul. Of overriding concern on this album are themes of trust, change, and self-image. The title, Beautiful, refers to her struggles with image-consciousness, and in focusing on how others perceive her. She describes being drawn into the industry-wide fixation on make-up, hair, and clothes; wrestling with the concepts due to feelings of self-doubt caused in part by her blindness.

For the first time, she also feels comfortable writing about Heaven. Once intimidated by the prospect of describing something so majestic and mysterious, her lead song "Won't That Be Fine" has an easy-going, dreamy feel that fits perfectly with the song's message that everything will be fine "When the sun always shines, and there is love all the time." Since she grew up without sight, Ginny claims that she was never very inquisitive about the things that others could see. But in another tribute to her newfound maturity, she has begun to explore this side of her personality and "I Love the Way" is the result. It speaks of basking in the wonder of God's creation, of lying in the sun, feeling the rain, and sensing the stillness of midnight. "Call Me Beautiful" is the pseudo-title track, and it is a sensitive look at how, while self-doubt can rob us of life's joys, God says that we are all beautiful. Man's constant, fruitless quest to find satisfaction in earthly treasures is the topic of "Bread," which has a stripped-down blues melody reminiscent of certain songs by Lauryn Hill.

Fans of Ginny Owens remember her near-meteoric rise from "discovery" to "star." With such a quick rise comes both increased expectation and obligation. Near-constant production and touring over the past two years drove her to withdraw for recuperation. She has returned rejuvenated and refreshed. I feel comfortable saying that, Without Condition, she has given her fans Something More. By far her best work yet, it is in a word, Beautiful.
- Scott Bush
March 2004

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