Reawakened by Jimmy Needham: 'Clear the Stage' album review

By Brandon Lee Julian,
An exalting display of vulnerability, passion and inspiration.
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The contemporary Christian genre is growing ever so popular these days, and especially with the established Positive Alternative radio, new artists are rising above and beyond the religious rock underground, and a particular artist Jimmy Needham is riding that slick wave to shore. Jimmy has been well established in the Christian contemporary scene for quite some time now, having been signed to Inpop Records, six years to be mainstream precise. His latest album Clear the Stage offers new insight in life and inspiration for those seeking it, all executed in a style that appeals to people of all backgrounds and interests.

The songs displayed in this album combine various artistic styles and genres with a deep passion and creates a unique personality of its own that also reflects that of Jimmy himself. If you are an avid Christian Contemporary listener, his songs are similar to that of Plumb, Remedy Drive, The Afters, King and Country, Buliding 429 and Mat Kearney. What I really compliment and applaud about Needham’s album is that it features modern and non-conventional uses of styles in his genre. For example, in “I Will Find You”, the bridge is rapped than sung. This, along with a few other artists, has personally changed my feeling for rap, by incorporating it within his song.

“Stay” makes you look in the mirror, redefine yourself and reflect on your life, and the duet harmony featuring Lizi Bailey reminds you that you are still human, make mistakes, and reassures you there is relief from all of your stress and sorrow.

“Arrows” contrast the album by offering a very reggae-tonic ambiance, exhibiting an understanding that not everything needs to be taken seriously, that sometimes you just have to sit back and relax. And that is how I feel when I listen to it.

“Track 10” is my favorite track of the album by far. The fact that it is entitled Track 10 already hints that it was too beautifully written to have placed a proper name to it. When I listen to it, I find the greatest of love, health, well-being and thankfulness in my life. Although his song if very faith-directed and driven, it still very much likable and listenable. This piano ballad holds the inspiration of “Here I Am to Worship” by Michael Smith, “the redemption of “The Heart of Worship” by Matt Maher, and the comfort of “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” by Chris Tomlin. Track 10 beautifully sums up the entire album, encompassing the album title itself. After listening to this track, you will look back and realize that this album has taken you on an inspirational journey.

Not only are all the songs cleverly written and soulfully executed, but for all pop listeners it has an attractable tune to it. The fact that Needham is able to transcribe a certain theme through various mediums and demonstrate as well his cleverness and creative versatility makes it appealing to a wider audience and becomes adaptable to various regions. He reminds us that we are all connected and he re-illustrates the music is present in every human being, culture and society.

The songs is not strictly directed and intended for the higher being of the Christian faith, but is written in a manner that is relatable to human body, mind and spirit. And where “God” is written is not completely irreconcilable. If you are looking for a song to lift you from your depression, “In the Middle” holds the lyrics “You are the hope that broke the dark in me / You are the light that shines when I can’t see / You are my victory.” If you are a father and wish to sing a melody to your daughter, “Daddy’s Baby Girl” let’s to sing to her “If love were time, I would spend all mine just living inside her word, ‘cause she’s daddy’s baby girl.”

Neeham has a very unique voice and singing style that exalts a display of vulnerability, passion and inspiration. He bleakly replicates that timbre of desperation and helplessness of Chris Tomlin and the joy and gratitude of Matt Maher. He is very unique, and he is definitely one to watch for in the Christian music scene.

Below is “Track 10” from the album.



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