Now you see her. Now you don’t. So goes the story of Rachael Lampa, who skyrocketed onto the pop scene in 2000 as a mere teenager amassing four number one Christian radio singles, five more top ten tunes, plus appearances on “The Tonight Show,” “The View,” “Entertainment Tonight,” “E!,” “Extra,” Teen People and CCM Magazine (where she was voted “Number One Young New Female Artist”). Add in a soundtrack slot on A Walk To Remember, an acting role in Hidden Secrets, a duet with Aaron Neville, plus tour time with Destiny’s Child, Boyz II Men, Nickel Creek, Amy Grant, Vince Gill and even Jordin Sparks (as a supporting singer on her stints alongside The Jonas Brothers and Britney Spears), and the powerhouse vocalist/songwriter became an internationally recognized face in less than a half decade.
After a greatest hits disc in 2006, Lampa practically disappeared from public eye at the peak of her career, leaving fans scratching their heads and searching feverishly for news of future projects, which aside from a Christmas EP in 2009 and the self-released studio EP Human in 2010 (featuring guest guitarist Jonny Lang), have been waiting with baited breath. But as the personable artist who’s now in her twenties so eloquently admits, the time away was just to recharge her understandably overworked batteries and plot her next creative step, which manifests itself in a yet-to-be-titled fall 2011 release.
“At the time, I felt like the luckiest girl in world, who got to go to school when I wanted and got to sing and see the whole world,” she recalls. “My brother was on the road with me and made it fun, so I didn’t feel like I had my childhood taken away from me. But what I wound up doing was wrapping my identity in my music instead of in Christ. If something didn’t go well career wise, then I stared thinking that me as a person was lacking. Once I realized that was happening, I just stepped away from the spotlight and invested in more time with my family and friends. Being off the merry-go-round helped me invest in relationships and build a sense of community that I was starting to loose.”
Amidst that season of respite, Lampa remained a fan of music and continued to write, even if it was just to bounce ideas off loved ones or for her own personal enjoyment. As a result, the already seasoned songwriter sharpened herself even further and felt freer than ever before as she honed her craft without any pre-conceived notions or external pressure.
“Eventually that led me to release Human, but I kept the team really small and purposefully boxed people out because I was scared to jump back into the world of labels and expectations,” she candidly shares. “I did that project for existing fans- the ones who started following me immediately when I got on Facebook and Twitter. I also got married shortly thereafter and that helped me to really get in touch with who I am: a daughter, a sister, a wife and a child of God who just so happens to love singing and music in general. At that moment, I realized I was ready to let people be part of that again.”
When word leaked that Lampa was ready to get back into the studio for a proper project, label bids ensued at a rapid pace, eventually leading to a partnership between management company Black Fuel Music (which also includes Word/Warner’s Group 1 Crew, Shonlock and Tooth & Nail/EMI’s Hyland and Ryan Stevenson), while her forthcoming CD will hit physical and digital stores via Universal Music.
“My new team is nothing but supportive of my vision and they’re working to make sure my new music reaches as many people as possible,” she continues. “They get what I’m doing and I get it now as well. I understand the privilege and the power of making music and I’m enjoying every minute of it this time around. Expressing myself doesn’t just make me feel free in my music, but also free in my faith and it’s all an intertwined journey.”
In addition to the new project possessing those introspective elements, there’s also plenty of the pop sensibility from which Lampa first rose to fame, wrapped around tasteful traces of R&B, soul, rock and electronica. Along with her bountiful pipes and cutting edge production, the current collection is just as contemporary as it is timeless.
“What I want this record to be is a good, soulful pop record where you can hear shades of Stevie Wonder and Lauryn Hill to Alicia Keys and Adele,” contends Lampa. “I tried to be cooler during the more acoustic indie era, but I just have to deal with the fact that I’m a pop girl at heart.”
Pop infectiousness certainly permeates the lead single “Remedy,” which is a sure fire sing-a-long from start to finish that talks about taking in a steady diet of Jesus (coupled with family, friends and other dependable people) as the ultimate medicine for life’s mounting anxieties or issue of any kind. “Savior’s Face” is equally provocative from a spiritual perspective as it speaks of laying one’s shortcomings before the cross, framed around a mid-tempo acoustic arrangement.
Other highlights include “100,” co-written with her husband and longtime friend/fellow artist Ginny Owens, demonstrating yet another textbook example of Lampa’s soulful balladry, while “Feel” overflows with passion and relatability as the relative newlywed explores the emotional differences between guys and girls.
“This record is really just a reflection of my life and where I’ve been since you last heard from me,” Lampa lets out with a laugh. “Lyrically, there’s a thread of simplifying life instead of spreading yourself too thin. I’m one of those people who used to try pleasing too many people, only being able to give everyone 10% instead of 100%. Now my goal is to be an awesome friend to a few people instead of a lesser friend to a lot of people. There’s a lot about letting the people I love know that I love them and talking about the things I believe.”
As for the future, Lampa isn’t mapping out any crafty world domination strategy, but simply a desire to live each day to the fullest as she promotes the project on the road. “I try not to think too hard about goals and I just want to enjoy the ride this time,” she adds. “I feel a new wave of energy and I’m ready to work really hard to reconnect with some familiar faces and expand my audience as well. I feel more emotionally equipped this time around and like I’ve got some muscle going into it. I’m not approaching this record like I’ve been there and done that, but with a newness to it all that makes me feel kind of wide-eyed. I’m just ready to take it all in, live in the present and hope it all leads to fun opportunities and life experiences.”