July 18, 1988 12:00 PM

Amy Grant

Grant has voiced displeasure over being regarded in pop music circles as a kind of virtuous twin of Madonna. It’s hard to escape those kinds of comparisons, though, with a singer whose basic rock style is decorated with lines about what Jesus did for us and who, when she refers to the higher powers, is not talking about the veejays at MTV. For mainstream purposes, Grant is more entertaining when she soft-pedals the message or makes it ambiguous, as she does in the Janis Ian—Rhonda Fleming tune What About the Love. Jimmy Webb’s quietly graceful If These Walls Could Speak, which Grant sings over just a piano, bass and Mark O’Connor’s viola, is affecting too. While the album was produced by Brown Bannister, the former minister who has turned out all of Grant’s records from her earliest, most hardcore religious days, it has a slick, pop-rock tone to it. Grant has a pleasant voice and sings up a minor storm at times, though she lacks the edge and growl that make some of her more profane sisters so expressive. While she never seems exactly sanctimonious, her conservative sexual philosophy too is hard to reconcile with the unspoken abandon at the core of most rock and roll. Listening to her sing straight material is a little like drinking decaffeinated coffee: It tastes fine and it’s no doubt better for you, but it’s pretty tempting to long for that missing kick. (A&M)

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