Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jimmy Needham: Nightlights Review

Jimmy Needham is back with his third Inpop project, Nightlights. Full of a message of being a vessel of God rather than taking glory for ourselves, Jimmy Needham’s Nightlights is full of amazing tracks in the jazz/gospel style that makes Jimmy so unique.

“Moving to Zion” has Nightlights off to a good start, with the head-bopping jazz and Jimmy’s unique writing abilities. Based on Galatians 4 about the mountains of Sinai and Zion, “Moving to Zion” almost contains a Pilgrim’s Progress feel to it, as it speaks of traveling to the mountain of Zion to make our home in Jesus.

“Being Small,” the first of several tracks on the record speaking of letting God have all the glory, contains an extremely catchy beat. Mixed with Jimmy’s flexible voice, this track is perfect, and one of the highlights of the CD. I also greatly enjoyed the lyrics to the chorus: “And when I get full of me/ turn me upside down/ You know pride and not just summer/ come before the fall/ so if it’s You that getting’ bigger I don’t mind/ being small.”

“Yours to Take,” Jimmy’s latest radio single, is set off right with a xylophone/ guitar mix. The lyrics again were a highlight, containing awesome lyrics about enjoying life and being at God’s full disposal. “The Reason I Sing,” based on a quote by A. W. Tozer, contains a bit of a campfire acoustic feel to it, speaking of being a nightlight that reflects the light of the Son. “Right Where You Are” reminded me of older 90s contemporary music possibly from Russ Taft. Its welcome classic sound perfectly compliments the lyrics of the track speaking of the desire to be “Right Where You Are.”

“Steal Away” containing the beloved jazz sound as well as trumpets, is actually a sweet love song to Jimmy’s wife. Consider these sweet lyrics: “Let’s steal away together/ cloudy days don’t get much better than this/ ‘cause I want more of our jet plane romances.” “Part the Clouds” is largely based on 2 Timothy 4, speaking of doing what is right no matter how we feel about it, as the chorus shares these creative lyrics: “We might as well just fold our hands/ if we can’t call a spade a spade/ ‘cause we will miss the heart each time/ if we don’t ever shoot them straight/ these pleasantries have shaded me/ and you too long/ let’s part the clouds and show the world the Son.”

“Grace Amazing” picks up the pace again with one of the best tracks on the record, featuring hip-hop artist Trip Lee. Borrowing it’s title partially from “Amazing Grace,” the hip-hop/contemporary jazz mix is perfect, speaking of God’s amazing grace that opened our eyes to His love. Of course, Trip Lee’s rap scene was a highlight from the track. “How Sweet It Is” may sound familiar, because this is Jimmy’s cover of the classic from 1964. Sung to his wife, and containing that wonderful jazz sound, “How Sweet it Is” was definitely a highlight from the album.

“Miss A Thing,” co-written by Me in Motion’s lead singer Seth Mosley, slows things down again, speaking of the brokenness of the world, and how only God’s blood can cover the stains: “Maybe there’s a reason for it/ but it’s so hard to see/ so many broken people/ living in this lonely city/ it feels right to give up/ I get up and realize Your blood can cover all these stains/ and You don’t ever miss a thing.”  “Just a Heartbeat” seems to be very similar to “How Sweet It Is,” only slower with a creative melody. Its encouraging lyrics speaks of how everything is possible with Him Who can do things in a heartbeat.

“Light of Day,” mostly acoustic, is another love song to Jimmy’s wife, speaking of being a lead to his spouse as God leads him. It was very sweet, and will most likely go down as a popular wedding tradition in the days ahead. Finally, Nightlights ends with a music-less poem written by Jimmy aptly titled “Nightlights,” and seems to summarize the album perfectly with it’s message of humbling ourselves to allow God to become big in our lives.

From Nightlights, I greatly admired Jimmy’s lyrics especially, as he showed what a real artist he is – one whose goal is to be as little as he can be, and allowing God to be big through Him. I have never seen such humility in a record before, causing this to be an amazing record. In addition, the completely enjoyable jazz style that composed this record is unique to Jimmy, making this album an entirely enjoyable listen. At first listen, I wasn’t sure what my thoughts were, but after in-depth listen to the album, I pray that God will use Jimmy’s honest approach to his music in a deep way. Nightlights is awesome!

Rating: 4.5/5

Track listing:
1. Moving to Zion
2. Being Small
3. Yours to Take
4. The Reason I Sing
5. Right Where You Are
6. Steal Away
7. Part the Clouds
8. Grace Amazing
9. How Sweet It Is
10. Miss A Thing
11. Just a Heartbeat
12. Light of Day
13. Nightlights


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