Album Review :
Plumb - Need You Now

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Artist: Plumb
Title: Need You Now
Label: Curb Records
Release Date: 2/26/13
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre

Tracklisting:

  1. Invisible
  2. Drifting
  3. Beautiful
  4. One Drop
  5. I Want You Here
  6. Say My Name
  7. Unlovable
  8. Need You Now (How Many Times)
  9. Chocolate and Ice Cream
  10. Don’t Deserve You
  11. Cage
  12. At Arms Length
  13. I Don’t Deserve You (with Paul Van Dyk)

Releasing her last studio album in 2007 titled Blink, as well as a Best-Of collection that came out at the end of 2009 featuring new recordings of ‘God Shaped Hole’, ‘Here With Me’, ‘Stranded’ and the newly written ‘Beautiful History’; Tiffany Arbuckle Lee (professionally known by her stage name Plumb) is now releasing her brand new studio album after a 5 year hiatus. With Need You Now releasing at the end of February 2013 (sharing the album release date with pop veterans Salvador and Newsong and a brand new worship album from Hillsong UNITED); this poignant collection of 12 songs (plus an added remix) present to the listener a place where emotion, struggles, hope, fear, peace, comfort and calamity all collide as Plumb invites us into a moment of vulnerability and surrender- asking the Lord to be our comfort in the trials, even if or when we can’t even see or feel His presence (especially then!). The process to releasing this album wasn’t necessarily a smooth one, with the album slated to release in September 2012, which was then pushed back to mid-January, and then now finalised to be released when the second month of 2013 ends. With Plumb changing the album title from Faster than a Bullet to the hopeful words Need You Now in honour of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims in Connecticut, the album’s first single and also the title track was an logical album title name and something that speaks volumes to many listeners as we ponder the necessity, even in trials and struggles, that we need Jesus with us every step of our journey here on Earth. From slow ballads to pop melodies, this album is certainly for any Plumb fan; or for those who may enjoy dance-pop with a few ballads placed in the middle of the album. Winning numerous awards and accolades during her long-standing career as both lead singer of the Plumb band and as a solo artist; it is her placement in TV shows like One Tree Hill, Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars and Dawson’s Creek that will certainly give her a great exposure into the mainstream market, alongside her songs being remixed by Paul Van Dyk and BT; as well as ‘In My Arms’ being promoted in countries like Russia and Eastern Europe. One of my most anticipated albums of 2013, Tiffany’s finished product is enough to me to place this album as one of my favourite Pop/Contemporary albums of the Year, along with Sanctus Real’s Run and Jason Castro’s Only a Mountain.

Need You Now’ is one of my favourite songs that released in 2012. Released in July with a message of longing and yearning for Christ to come and settle, reassure and comfort our wrestling hearts, it was Tiffany’s panic attacks leading up to her desperate need of God in those moments as she wrote the lyrics that has made the song great as it relates to many listeners around the world as they hear it. Starting off with a kick drum beat and a riveting keyboard, we are met with the vulnerability of just confusion and uncertainty, the words reading off a page like something that seems to be thought, even for a second, by ever person on the planet. With her comfort in how ‘…everybody’s got a story to tell and everybody’s got a wound to be healed, I want to believe there’s beauty here…’, God shows us that we indeed have a story, and whether it’s good or bad is irrelevant in the healing, restoration, revelation and reconnection God longs to give all of us. As He seeks to turn the tragic into the triumphant, the hopeless into the hopeful, the catastrophic into the calm and peaceful, we are met with time of wrestling and seeking as we cry out ‘…God I need You now…’ The realness of the song is compelling and convicting as I myself am captured by how moving, emotional and uplifting a song borne out of pain and hurt can be. Though this song is about seeking and asking; we are given a great reminder through this melody, and also through His Word and the Holy Spirit that Christ will never leave us, even in the moments when we think He has. Well done Plumb for one of my favourite songs on the album, and one that will pave the way and set the album as one of the highlights for February 2013!

Beautiful’, ‘I Don’t Deserve You’, ‘One Drop’ and ‘Drifting’, along with ‘Need You Now’, were all released in one form or another before Plumb’s release date of Need You Now on February 26th (with ‘I Want You Here’ being the 3rd song- after ‘Beautiful’ and ‘One Drop’, to release on iTunes as a single and potentially a music video this coming Tuesday 19th February). With ‘Drifting’ releasing as a single to iTunes in 2011 and ‘I Don’t Deserve You’ promoted by Paul Van Dyk in the form of a remix track and video on his Youtube page; fans have been given half the songs to listen to before the release date, and if these preview songs are any indication to what the new album will sound like, then fans are in for a real treat as Plumb’s Need You Now, anchored by these tracks above, is one of my favourite pop albums of the year (alongside Sanctus Real’s Run and Jenny Simmons’ The Becoming). ‘One Drop’ is one of my favourite songs on the album, and releasing to iTunes on the 5th February, Plumb reveals one of the most poignant songs on Need You Now, describing how ‘…just one drop of Your love, a single ray of sun, just one thing to change the world…’ Speaking about the love and bond between herself and her husband (or even Christ Himself), the corresponding video releasing on the same day presents a unique meaning to the lightly percussion driven and keyboard emphasised melody that reminds listeners of the difference we can make in the lives of those around us who may be less fortunate than we are. Partnering with Blood:Water Mission to release the video and showing scenes of help and hope as people in Africa are given basics like food, water, healthcare and shelter; Plumb’s heart for the needy and helpless is certainly brought out in this song.

Also released as singles during the month of February, ‘Beautiful’ and ‘I Want You Here’ both bring out Plumb’s emotion and vulnerability as she creates a space for listeners to hear her in a typical Job-moment in ‘I Want You Here’, as well as offering encouragement to those struggling with identity issues in ‘Beautiful’. Presented with strings and a prominent keyboard, Plumb describes a moment of confusion, pain, heartache and hurt as she questions if the people around her in her life will stay or leave when she is in despair and desolation. Reminding myself about the moment when Job asked the Lord if He was still there when everything was taken away from him, Tiffany cries out ‘…I wanna scream, is this a dream? How could this happen, happen to me…’ A song that asks questions instead of providing answers, we know as believers in Christ that Christ will never leave us, and that even in circumstances where we may doubt His presence, we are still loved by the King, with this song certainly able to bring forward issues related to abandonment and questioning the presence of God during times of trouble. Starting off with an electric guitar riff and a great technique of reverb, Tiffany sings in ‘Beautiful’ about the relationship she has with her husband, reminding couples or even single people in a relationship that beauty and identity doesn’t come from what we do, but who we are and what we mean to the other person. Even though I’m not in a relationship with anyone, I can still relate to the song, reminding myself that the way that two people love each other is a similar way as to how Christ sees His creation. Even if ‘…I don’t deserve You, coz I always hurt You…’; we are constantly reminded day after day of what Christ thinks, that ‘…you’re beautiful, so beautiful to me…’ With this song certain to be publicised on mainstream as well as Christian radio, ‘Beautiful’ and its themes links into ‘I Don’t Deserve You’, recently promoted as a remix via DJ Paul Van Dyk’s Youtube page. With both the remix and the original song on Need You Now, Plumb’s poetic poignancy is perfectly executed through this mainstream-like track, where on the surface it can be seen that Plumb is describing a love that is given by someone close to her, and how ‘…you never give up when I’m falling apart, your arms are always open wide, and you’re quick to forgive when I make a mistake, you love me in the blink of an eye…’ Destined to be popular in mainstream radio along with ‘Beautiful’, this eerily refreshing and ingenious track about unending and unequivocal love can be translated to the relationship we have with family and friends, but as Plumb relays her inspirations behind the song, …it was inspired by my incredible son Oliver (6), who reminds me daily of God’s love for me in how He loves me so unconditionally…’ A love undeserving, we are reminded through ‘I Don’t Deserve You’ in particular that Christ’s love covers a multitude of questions, queries, worries and uncertain times. ‘Drifting’ also gives us comfort in the love and rescue of God in times of trouble, as stresses and worries of life are likened to a ‘…sea of lonely, swimming sad, looking just for an arm to grab…’ The duet with Jars of Clay lead singer Dan Haseltine is a great mix of vocals, with Dan bringing an added dimension to the song as we are met with metaphors and motifs, realising that even in the most difficult moments, we ‘…see the sun…’, a picture of how Christ comes into our lives in the 11th hour when we can’t see a way out. With all these songs offering hope and redemption in a world where there seems on the surface to be none, Plumb’s promotional songs offer us a great glimpse into an album certain to please both the Christian and mainstream music audience.

‘Unloveable’ is spoken from the point of view of an outsider, reminding listeners that sometimes Christians can marginalise the people who are different or weird. Sometimes we may find it difficult to see or even be around them; and then look the other way even when Christ spoke about mingling in and focusing on the down-trodden and different when it comes to relating with those that were shunned from society because they were too different or socially dissimilar than society in general. Placing the uncomfortableness in the word ‘comfortable’ that many Christians are consumed with, Tiffany presents the issue of ignorance and prejudice in this heartfelt melody about exposing the lies and routines we often fall into every day of our lives. With a light percussion and keyboard, Tiffany provides a remedy to those people who have been hurt through these circumstances, reminding them that Jesus too was different ‘…but didn’t we kill Him…’ Tiffany also expounds on themes like longing for Christ in the moments when we can’t feel or even sense His presence (‘Invisible’), pleading with friends or family not to judge or ‘cage’ her for all the mistakes she has made in the past, but rather ‘…I need Your love for a wild thing…’ (‘Cage’), as well as trying to speak to a loved one after a difficult situation, longing for the issue to be solved with a reminder that ‘…love is faster than a bullet, it’s the perfect remedy…’ (‘At Arms Length’); it is the poignant 3:23 length melody ‘Say Your Name’ that is really one of my personal highlights. Spoken with true vulnerability, Tiffany cries out to a loved one who has either died; or an ex-boyfriend or friend that has gone away, revealing the struggles she has in letting go and moving on from the particular moment that has caused the questioning and calamity. We can all relate to this pop song of asking the question why- when does the hurt become the healing, and why is it that even if time heals all wounds, no amount of time can heal mine? Reminding listeners that every one of us are in need of the Saviour that can heal our broken hearts and mend our hurts and pains, we are encouraged to stay firm knowing that ‘…I know that someday this pain, it will fade…’ A great standout on Need You Now, well done Tiffany for such a poignant song of longing, hope and redemption!

Overall: With such anticipation surround Plumb’s latest album release, I can safely say that this is a great comeback from an artist who has captured and intrigued many fans since her first album way back in 1997. Through her many transitions from band to solo as well a 5 year hiatus, Need You Now matches anticipation and adds a little extra as Tiffany reveals what I think is her most personal album to date. With all these songs incorporating a longing to look for the eternal amongst the transient and realise that what we’re searching for only God can give, this album is a must for anyone who loves her previous work, or those who love great pop music from similar artists like Jars of Clay and Britt Nicole. Carrying along the vein of her chart-topping songs like ‘Cut’, ‘Real’, ‘Stranded’ and ‘In My Arms’; ‘Need You Now’ and the rest of the songs on this album are going to be a fan favourite amongst many who have witnessed this woman of God from Indiana thrive in her role of music artist. One of the most ingenious and standout albums of the year, Tiffany’s music is almost certain to claim a nomination for either Dove Awards, Grammy Awards or both in 2014. Well done Tiffany (a.k.a. Plumb) for such an inspiring and emotional album!

RIYL: Francesca Battistelli, Sanctus Real, Britt Nicole, Jars of Clay

Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3

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