Picks and Pans Review: Unguarded

UPDATED 06/24/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/24/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT

Amy Grant

It's not unusual to hear a rock 'n' roll record about temptation, debauchery, free-living and lack of moral direction. It is unusual to hear a rock 'n' roll record that makes it sound as if those aren't all terrific things we should be striving for. But then this is the young sister who is to the spiritual world what Madonna is to the material. Grant, 25, has crossed over to a mainstream label and put more pop in her style, but she is not exactly getting out of the gospel groove that has made her as close to a superstar as the sacred world allows. Except for one reference to Jesus and a couple of Hims and Yous that would be easy to overlook, this LP is light on proselytizing, heavy on music. Grant's longtime collaborator Brown Bannister produced, and the arrangements are as polished and powerful as any in rock; the rhythm section drives, the guitars zing, the synthesizers (played by rock mainstays Shane Keister and Robbie Buchanan) wind and twist. Grant's voice—a frail, Newton-Johnish sort of instrument—is occasionally overshadowed by the band, in fact. Her songs also do get a little preachy: "What's the advice you're getting?/Work hard in school/Learn the good rule and/Try to make good for you." But she has made a smooth transition from rock-tinged gospel to gospel-tinged rock. She sounds confident and vibrant. For those who like to dance and pray at the same time, her stuff can't be beat. (A & M)

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