When I'm With You
On her fifth album, JJ Heller keeps things sweet, simple and sincere. When I’m With You combines the empathetic songwriting touch of Sara Groves with the airy, playful spirit of Colbie Caillat. Heller’s wistful, understated vocal style matches the diary-like quality of her lyrics and the homespun folkiness of her melodies. Her love songs — particularly “Tell It Again,” “Boat Song” and “Until You Came Along” — have a wide-eyed honesty about them that transcends any sense of calculation or cliché. The breezy shuffle “When I’m With You,” addressed to her daughter Lucy, is especially winning. Heller’s Christian outlook is most clearly revealed in “Kingdom Come” (a humble, personal hymn) and “What Love Really Means” (a meditation upon God’s unconditional love). Among the more downbeat songs found here, “Olivianna” deals with the death of a young child with sensitivity and a measure of hope. JJ’s husband Dave's acoustic guitar work gives these tracks a warm, natural glow, enhanced by Mitch Dane and Ben Shive’s uncluttered production.