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POP MUSIC | RECORD RACK

*** AMY GRANT, "Behind the Eyes," A&M

September 28, 1997|Elysa Gardner

In the late '80s and early '90s, Grant made a smooth transition from earnest Christian minstrel to wholesomely sexy pop star. Now she is seeking to transform herself once more, this time into a confessional singer-songwriter. In doing so, she actually returns to her roots in a sense, drifting away from the glossy, adult-contemporary sound she has favored in recent years and back to the spare, folky textures and sober, forthright expression of her early work.

Grant has never been a great singer or an inspired tunesmith, but after nearly two decades in the business, she knows how to make the most of her limited vocal abilities and can afford to collaborate with pop savants such as Glen Ballard and Keith Thomas. Still, it should be noted that two of the most moving songs on "Eyes," the elegant "Missing You" and the sweetly moody ballad "The Feeling I Had," were written by Grant herself. To say that she's been born again would be an overstatement, but Grant's shift in direction has clearly set her heart, and soul, in motion.

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Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good), four stars (excellent).

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* Excerpts from these albums and other recent releases are available on The Times' World Wide Web site. Point your browser to: http://www.latimes.com/soundclips

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