There was a time in the mid- to late '90s when CCM used to groom and nurture true teen stars: Rebecca St. James, Jaci Velasquez, Rachael Lampa, and Stacie Orrico all came out of that era. Moriah Peters, too, recalls that bygone period: her major-label debut, I Choose Jesus, sounds like nothing on the Christian pop airwaves in 2012, yet catches the ear with its quirky melodies, bright-eyed spirit, and pop sensibility reminiscent of Colbie Caillat, Sara Bareilles, and Brooke Fraser, but with exuberance very much her own. Peters comes across as a bubbly personality, and the childlike heart with which she sells these songs, many of them unabashed declarations of faith, makes it impossible to dismiss her as yet another dime-a-dozen girl with a guitar. Starlets her age often try to appear too cool for school, even in Christian music, but Peters seems unconcerned with appearances -- when she sings that she has never kissed her boyfriend, the one she's been waiting for all her life ("Haven't Even Kissed"), she means every word. Elsewhere, she's just content with being an encourager: to the church ("Know Us by Our Love," "All the Ways He Loves Us"), to her downtrodden neighbor ("No Shame," "Bloom"), and to herself ("Sing in the Rain"). Peters is so cheerful about her walk with God, so hopeful about her community of believers, you'd think these songs belong in Sunday school rather than in a disc that's, in essence, a singer/songwriter one. Peer through her innocence, though, and it becomes clear that Peters has the soul, the style, and the substance to make it big in CCM, and maybe even beyond. She should be a star. ~ Andree Farias
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