2005's Awaken advanced Natalie Grant several steps away from lightweight teen-pop towards more substantial lyric themes and musical settings. Grant’s vocal gifts are obvious here — her full-bodied lows and smoothly-executed highs are used to advance her message rather than for technical effect. Awaken emphasizes the positive on sleek, faith-affirming numbers like “Something Beautiful,” “Live 4 Today,” and “Captured.” More weighty are piano-centered ballads like “Held” (an affirmation of hope amid sorrow) and “Home” (a poignant look at human trafficking). Grant reveals yet another side of her talents by turning in a credible Southern soul performance (in tandem with Wynonna Judd) on “Bring It All Together.” Though she can pour on the melodrama if need be, Grant truly shines on songs like “The Real Me,” when her trembling voice captures the urgency of spiritual need. Producer Bernie Herms (Natalie’s husband) surrounds her in layered sonic backdrops, mixing modern pop with theater rock and a touch of Maria Carey-style R&B. Awaken catches Grant still on the rise, embracing her divahood while retaining her grace.