Reviewed by Christa A.
Not Without Love by Jimmy Needham
"...one of this year’s biggest—and most rewarding—surprises from start to finish."
Outpacing the cliché “the third time’s a
charm,” Jimmy Needham’s sophomore effort is one of this year’s
biggest—and most rewarding—surprises from start to finish.
While Needham’s largely forgotten debut Speak hinted at this young singer/songwriter’s promise, Not Without Love is far superior in virtually every way. Continuing in the jazzy, folky vein of his debut, Needham’s latest work gets the big-budget treatment, but not in a distractingly in-your-face, overly produced way, mind you. But instead of sounding like a low-budget Indie disc with a few embellishments a la Speak, the songs on Not Without Love have that professional sheen that elevates the end result.
Continuing in the whole Jason Mraz/John Mayer/Marc Broussard vein of his debut, Needham still manages to make his distinctive mark with a range of interesting guitar licks, a soulful vocal delivery and stellar songwriting that clearly communicates the gospel truth with conviction. Much like Keith Green back in the early days of the Jesus Movement, Needham doesn’t mince words when it comes to living out the Christian life. One needs to look no further than the opening track “Come Around,” a brilliant indictment of the Christian subculture or the moving portrait of God’s amazing grace “Forgiven and Loved” to get a sure sense of his zeal.
And the newlywed also manages to tug on the listener’s heartstrings with a sentimental (but not in a way that’ll engage your gag reflex) tribute to his lovely bride on “Unfailing Love (Kelly’s Song).” It’s moments like these that not only provide an inside look on who this artist really is when he’s not playing the guitar, but are a brilliant reminder of the God who inspired the music in the first place.
Christa A. Banister is a full-time freelance writer, specializing in music, movies and book-related reviews and interviews. She's also the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers (NavPress). Based in St. Paul, Minn., where she lives with her hubby Will, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog. For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.