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Jeremy Camp is probably best known for two things: his gravely voice and his heart-wrenching story of loss. The impact of both left their imprint on his phenomenal debut disc, “Stay.”

As Camp returns with “Carried Me: The Worship Project,” the voice is still there but the heart is lighter. While his 2002 CD was packed with deep and meaningful accounts of hope and faith amid personal struggle, the new CD is nonstop praise and worship.

The difference might be traced to the major changes in Camp’s life. “Stay” developed out of the loss of his new wife, Melissa, to cancer. The February release of his second CD comes two months after his marriage to Adrienne Liesching, former lead singer for the edgy Christian rock group The Benjamin Gate.

“Carried Me” mixes songs written by Camp with contemporary worship standards and new songs written by others. No matter what its origin, Camp wraps each song in his hard-driving style, creating a worship project that’s much more personalized and personal that most others.

The album explores a range of emotions from awe, to joy, to surrender. Camp’s telltale guitar riffs and assertive vocals dominate “I Wait for the Lord” and “Trust In You,” which promises “I will trust in you and I will not be afraid.” And he gives the worship standard “You’re Worthy of My Praise” a new edge. However, he takes a softer turn with the ballad “Revive Me” and the joyful song of renewal “I Surrender to You.”

Perhaps the only song that doesn’t really seem to fit is the final track, “Carried Me,” which relies on electronic sounds that don’t jell well with the other songs.

For those who missed Camp’s first CD, “Walk By Faith” also makes an appearance. The addition of that track — while welcome — makes the disc feel a bit like it’s intended to hold space until the fall release of what’s billed as Camp’s sophomore album. And perhaps that’s all “Carried Me” really is — filler. If that’s the case, it’s filler that meatier than most.

On the Web:

Disc tip

ZOEgirl’s new CD, “Different Kind of Free,” marks a switch from bouncy pop to something edgier. While just an initial step onto rock turf, the transformation shows a lot of promise.

From the opening track, “Beautiful Name,” Chrissy Conway, Alisa Girard and Kristin Winford prove their music and message can translate into a language accented by guitar riffs. However, some of the tracks feel a little overproduced and others could use a little more kick.

While the trio’s previous three discs didn’t shy away from tough topics, this CD seems to take life and its difficulties more seriously. For example, the haunting “She” deals with a teen’s mistakes and resulting rejection. It warns how those who criticize are responsible when “she’s alone, caught up in the undertow.”

The buoyant “Contagious” is an echo of the trio’s dance-beat days and one of the weaker tracks. However, it’s followed by the title track, which describes the war between sin and salvation to a military beat. The staccato drum and rap interlude are an interesting departure.

At this point, it’s tempting to describe the “new” ZOEgirl as an edgier Point of Grace. However, with a little more experience and daring, ZOEgirl could own this niche.

On the Web:

— Today’s Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry. It appears every other week on the Religion page.


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