Thursday, February 28, 2013

Plumb - Need You Now [Music Review]

Artist: Plumb
Album: Need You Now
Album Length: 13 tracks: 51 minutes, 23 seconds
Street Date: February 26, 2013
Record Label: Curb Records
Genre: Rock/Pop
iPod Pick: ‘Beautiful’ or ‘Drifting’ (Honestly it’s a strong tie)

Plumb’s career story is inspiring at best. On making a decision to leave the music industry years back (which she hadn’t publicly announced yet) and playing her last concert, Plumb was approached by a young girl who slipped a note across to her. The note summary was a ‘Thank You letter’ of how Plumb’s music as at then had helped the girl through a very hard time. It was then Plumb made up her mind to continue making beautiful music. If you aren’t familiar with the music of Plumb then you are not familiar with the popular flick ‘Bruce Almighty’. Maybe you would recognize her real name Tiffany Arbuckle Lee somewhere in the soundtrack credits. Fans have waited five years for ‘Need You Now’ and I can tell you from here: It was worth the wait. And this is why.

‘Invisible’ sounds like something Lady Gaga would gladly pay Plumb for as a songwriter and place on her next album. It’s got that eerie feel that one of those Kylie Minogue calisthenics styled music video might just fit well if Plumb decides to make a video for this one.  Drifting’ which features Jars of Clay member Dan Haseltine has the ability to do two things in you, awaken angst for the status quo and at the same time hope for tomorrow as you might get stuck on this one for a while before you continue the record. Before you continue, you might pick up your headphones and take a walk. There’s a tendency you would smile at every stranger you meet on the way while listening to this one. 

'Beautiful' builds up with grace and tempo consisting of all what we loved about the 80's music and what's most beautiful about it is the story it tells. The lyrics and bouncy beats at its bridge would make you just smile big. Love me some ukulele on 'One Drop' which pop radio would pick up soon. 'I Want You Here' starts in an undecided melody leaving us wondering 'what exactly is happening in this song!' Until you here Plumb screams the first line of the chorus 'I wanna scream. . .' And then you realize we were in for an impatient but slow ambient roller coaster all along. 'Say Your Name' reminds us why we've always loved Plumb’s  music  as she asks 'when does a scar become a tattoo?'. Though loud, 'Say Your Name' leans more on the poppy side, which still Gaga but preferably Pink or Ke$ha wouldn't might paying for on their own respective albums.

'Unlovable' is a letter, I think to the church. It's beautiful. And that underlying tune knocks it off more beautifully. And there's a chance you might print out the lyrics for this one and place them somewhere near your mirror. Example: 'so we say we love Jesus. Didn't we kill him?' 'Need You Now (How Many Times)' musically follows the path of something we’ve heard but might not be exactly able to place from Plumb's 'Chaotic Resolve'  album but still sounds solid and beautiful for this project.

I personally love 'Chocolate and Ice Cream' and would give Plumb a pat on the back for it cause its musically different in sound from anything she's ever done and would have just been extra perfect if one of them rappers say Lecrae or Tedashii dropped some bars on this one. 'I Don't Deserve You' musically might not shatter new grounds but is lyrically loaded. And somewhere towards the end, Plumb spontaneously breaks into a SANG IT!!! voice, and yeah it's okay cause she can SANG. 'Cage' walks the thin line of a 'no no' and 'yeah! That’s my song'. Personally I think it's would have been best kept for a future record as it seems like a vacation from the whole mood and feel of the album but it still beautifully reminds us of the best of 80's rock.

An old fan might just scream 'lullabies? Not again!' on 'At Arms Length' which is reminiscent of songs from Plumb's Blink project. It's a love song this time and not about cooing babies to sleep. Even here we hear the line 'Faster Than a Bullet' which is what this album was meant to be called formerly. DJs get ready for the party ready 'I Don't Deserve You (With Paul van Dyk) ' which would get a regular listener wondering if it's the same song on 'I Don't Deserve You' same words but so much difference.

Plumb has always had the ability to convince us music is never made in a studio but drops directly from heaven and she does that again on her latest 'Need You Now'. Tiffany Arbuckle Lee is a song carver specialized in delivering bespoke songs to her fans that meets them in an individual place yet drawing them to seek a community where hope is readily available. 'Need You Now' is a 'must-not-miss' if you've been a fan or if you love music, just plain good music. And no wonder this artist been cited as an inspiration and model by many established artistes say Amy Lee of the rock band Evanescence.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Jeremy Camp - Reckless [Music Review]

Artist: Jeremy Camp
Album: Reckless
Album Length: 11 tracks: 41 minutes, 2 seconds
Street Date: February 12, 2013
Record Label: BEC
Genre: Rock
iPod Pick: Paradise
The name Jeremy Camp reminds us of two words: Soul and Rock, now put them together and we have Soul Rock a genre very few of artists in the 'loud' genre have skillfully crossed into. Fact: Jeremy can make you cry while screaming and jumping with his music, yes it’s that experiential. For me I got hooked with the album ‘Restored’, on which Jeremy sang rock songs about God that got me wondering why every rock artist wasn’t singing about God if it could sound this good. ‘Reckless’ which has been anticipated by fans has got high stakes to climb, if it climbs them is what this review is about.

Reckless’ starts off with the edgy drum-drum versed ‘Reckless’ that has a chorus that might just spark up the life of any party. But my fear on close listening to this one is that for the adult fan base Jeremy has gathered over the years it might just be like a throwback to their punk teenage years. Though ‘The Way You Love Me’ slows down the album drastically and too early and sounding like something we’ve heard before but can’t remember, it’s a beautiful song of bold declaration. ‘Free’ follows the thump, thump chorus we are offered at the album opening.  

‘Paradise’ a must love and a personal favorite is a bit laid back in sound but compensates with a fine and fun soundtrack you might only find on rock and roll oldies you once loved. Beautiful and noticeable songwriting appears on the mellow ‘We Must Remember’. Camp sings ‘We must remember . . . that you don’t remember our sins anymore’. ‘Shine’ might just remind you of Chris Tomlin or is it Chris Tomlin that actually reminds us of Jeremy Camp. But somewhere on the song bridge, we hear hard clap drums that adds some beauty and essence to the whole music feel on this track. 

On ‘Come Alive’ the beautiful orchestra feel we are already use to on lots of songs by Jeremy Camp is lazily employed. It sounds just good but it’s not nothing we have never heard before. ‘My God’ might seem to any fan of Camp’s music like the first blast of fresh air on this album, sounding unlike Jeremy Camp’s usual music path, but still it struggles to deliver anything new in its entirety. ‘We Need’ edges on the anthemic type but might be voted as ‘most likely to be skipped’ on the album though a bit vibrant. ‘Reign in Me’ is a beautiful ‘roll-down-your-windows-put-on-your-shades’ tune. It would sure put a smile on your face and it’s a prayer too. The albums wraps up beautifully with ‘Without You’ a song of surrender.

It’s hard to judge this album on the wings of other Jeremy Camp’s album especially the first three and that I wouldn’t do. But I have a feeling core fans after waiting five years since his last original studio release (Speaking Louder Than Before) might simply be musically jaded with this. It’s the type of album you listen to the end to not cause it’s exceptionally great or a press play but cause you are waiting for something to happen. The shocking thing is it seems like nothing happens as the last track fades on Camp’s latest. 

New fans (Are there still people who don’t know the music of Camp? Lol) should please stop by at ‘Restored’, ‘Beyond Measure’ and any live recording of Jeremy Camp before picking this up. Old Fans, you well should give it a try cause I know you can’t wait to.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Jenny Simmons - The Becoming [Music Review]

Artist: Jenny Simmons
Album: The Becoming
Album Length: 10 Tracks. 37 minutes, 37 seconds
Street Date: February 5, 2013
Record Label: Fair Trade Services
Genre: Pop
iPod Pick: Where I Belong

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I gave this album a five star even before I gave it a listen. You would do that if you have been following Jenny Simmons since her Addison Road days or if you’ve been following her Cupcake, Sprinkles and Other Happy Things blog. Beyond the music, Jenny’s got an AH-mazing heart which shows forth in her music as her music has this feel of her conversing with you over coffee. “So what’s the use of this review” you might say “since the album has been five stared already” Well let’s see together if it fits the bill.

The album kicks off with guitar strumming reminiscent of the classic record ‘Torn’ by Natalie Imbruglia on ‘Where I belong’ as Jenny enters with vocals that is in fact Imbruglia -esqued  as in ‘Torn’. The song morphs into a mellow but yet bouncy chorus Florence Welch and her Machines wouldn’t mind wiggling their waist to as they did on the hit ‘Dog days are over’. ‘What Faith's About’ comes up next, a song that might just make you go open all dusty windows that have you have kept shut for so long and this is one of the many reasons why: What if I jump and I find I was always made to fly? What if the days I'm walking into are the best of my whole life? What if the things that I dream become my reality? When it looks impossible, but still works out. What if that's what faith's about?’

I still don’t know why ‘Heaven Wait for Me’ which comes up next and happens to be my least favorite musically from the album was the first single to be released from this album. Lyrically it deals with a very sensitive topic with so much grace, hope and realness as Jenny shares her own personal story interwoven with the general longing we all share as humans about life and death. On ‘This I Know’ Jenny puts a playful twist on the popular classic ‘Jesus Loves Me’ which fans of Jason Mraz would immediately love on first listen cause it’s got a southern ting too. You would hear one of the best lyrics on the whole album as Jenny sings ‘History keeps trying to repeat. And the only way to stop it’s curse is learning how to speak’ on ‘Broken Hallelujah’. The song is composed with so much class and poise that it might surprise you that such a young artist would choose it for a debut release.

On ‘The Becoming’ Jenny sweetly sings out a prayer you might soon be singing along with her after a first listen ‘Jesus Hold me. Keep me from running. Cause I don’t wanna miss the beauty of becoming’. ‘Letting You Go’ is a shocker. Honestly, first I thought my ‘The Becoming’ CD had been switched for a Rihanna or say a Kelly Rowland CD. Jenny Shows us she can do the ‘hands-on-your-waist-independent-woman’ styled music accustomed to the likes of Shontelle, Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce, and Rihanna on this one, and she sure pulls it through well even with a bridge which features BGVS that would make you imagine three ladies wearing shiny dresses and stilettos behind a mic stand. Infact the next track ‘The In Between’ starts off with an intro reminiscent of Rihanna’s ‘Take a Bow’ but morphs into a playful chorus the likes of Avril Lavigne would place on an album. 

Don’t Loose Heart’ which is a personal favorite is beautiful in its entirety. It starts off with soft vocals and guitar strumming before the drums roll in Alanis Morisette style. Somewhere in the middle, Jenny declares powerfully in a way that might cause you to lift your hands on listening ‘He began a work He will complete. We’ll see the goodness of the Lord in the land if the living’ It forms into a kind of crescendo as the song comes to an end. Beautifully crafted tune.

Come Healing’ wraps up the album perfectly as Jenny starts off this one with lazy vocals in the style of Monique of The Welcome Wagon or the beloved Jewel. The funny thing about this song is how it ends with Jenny SANGing it off like one those big black ladies in a gospel choir and yes she can SANG!

Apart from blaming Jenny for not making this record longer after it ends, ‘The Becoming’ might be one of the best things that happened to your stereo this February . I think Jenny Simmon's debut is more than a record, it's a story of change and the metamorphosis. You would hear it on listening and feel it in the silence that happens after the record stops. And this record I think is an essential gift to our individual 'becoming'. 

P.S - There's a story I almost didn't share about writing this review. I wrote this review first almost two weeks ago and I lost it. Yes I lost it, I mistakenly closed up MS word (have you ever experienced that, cause if you have, it is painful). The first review I wrote, I spent hours listening and soaking in this album, feeling the music and trying to get into what the artist might have been thinking when writing the lyrics and making the music but then it was gone the next day. 

I complained and worried how whatever I would come up with after that wouldn't be as good as the first, but I still felt a nudge to go ahead.

Sometimes we loose somethings of worth on Life's road and wonder if we would ever get them back, that's not the issue the issue is if we will try again, dust it all off and live. Cause the change that matters in the light of forever must happen to us and not the things around us. Friends, was this better than the first I wrote, I don't know. Yes it(the first) was good, so good that it made me jump and made me think 'this might be the best review I have ever written' but then it was gone too and I would never have it back. But I have this and a big future and a fruitful mind to write more. And for that I am thankful.

Life fails, Check bounces, lovers leave, MS Word closes mistakenly, you got rejected from that job, but what do you have left? What are you thankful for in the midst of the mess and pain? And What would you do with what is left?

Cause friends I have found that we sometimes let what left hinder us from making good use of what is left.

Jenny Simmons is currently also sharing stories behind her songs at, who knows, something might make you see somethings clearer, maybe somethings like the the things that are left. :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Colton Dixon - A Messenger [Music Review]

Artist: Colton Dixon
Album: A Messenger
Street Date: 29 January, 2013
Record Label: Sparrow Records
Genre: Rock
iPod Pick: I’ll Be The Light

21 years old Colton Dixon actually journeyed to the 11th season of the American Idols in the year 2012 to encourage his sister during her audition and after weeks came out in the finalist roll. Sweet story huh? The best is yet to come as this young rock star's debut seals him in the lines of veterans like Coldplay,Lifehouse, Daughtry, Paramore, 30 seconds to mars and Switchfoot .
The album opens up with an intro a lot might not see a point of. Honestly I didn’t see the point too but I guess the concept of the album was more like a film project (check out the market branding on Colton's Facebook page), so if I guessed right, the intro serves well. ‘Noise’ starts with the 'thump thump' beat accustomed to the rock and roll oldies say ‘The Beatles’ or Mike Jagger of The Rolling Stones but settles for the classic rock choruses we all can predict.

‘I’ll be the light’ is a beauty, lyrically and musically. Colton sings vulnerably ‘When you’re out of faith, I’ll give you some of mine. ‘. I believe this very song stands the chance to be a rock classic that would be remembered after a long time. On ‘Love Has Come for Me’ Colton screams passionately ‘Cause this is where I am. This is where you start. And everything I needed is everything you are’. You would hear his soul on this one and I think this would make a great soundtrack for an Hollywood blockbuster, listening you would sure imagine an high school scene or say a love story, you would say I told you so. ‘Scars’ has this rocky melodic chorus that would make you move side to side to it. The song might just make you take a walk and raise your hands to the wind too. It’s a great tune.

I think one thing that stands out in the rock made by Colton Dixon is the lyrical intertwining with music. Colton's got soul and that's sure. He is clear about his message and doesn't trade it all on the table of mediocre sound. 'A Messenger' a collection of great rock tunes mostly melodic and loud with a one or two ballad thrown in between ('Let Them See You', 'Rise') but beyond that Colton brings lots of hope to the table too. Might just be one of the best things that has happened to rock since Daughtry's Home.

Tasha Cobbs - Grace [Music Review]

Artist: Tasha Cobbs
Album: Grace
Street Date: 2/5/13
Record Label: EMI Gospel
Genre: Gospel
iPod Pick: Get Up

I just absolutely love Tasha Cobbs. Behind the stilettos and big hair is a heart that longs to worship God passionately and appropriately and you wouldn’t miss that in the music Tasha offers on ‘Grace’.
Get Up’ is hot tempo meet Gospel music. It’s a power chant of sorts for a generation as Tasha sing-scream the ad-lib ‘Let the Kingdom of God rise’. You would sure rise and do a non-rhythmic dance. Yeah non-rhythmic, the tune is that sick! ‘Love You Forever’ hangs more on the soulful type but picks up at the bridge like that Travis Greene song, yeah you got it right ‘Heaven is Loud’.

Happy’ is a happy church song. You know the type the worship team leader sings with all smiles on her face like she just won a lottery. The lyrics Tasha sings on this one open our eyes to the truth that we’ve got something more than a lottery as Christians ‘everything about you is right. It covers all my wrongs. Your life saved my life. With you is where I belong’ Although it morphs into a chorus that could make the old church mamas and papas move frantically from side to side or get off their seat and do the foot zig-zag dance, Tasha rounds it up sharp and soulfully doing an ad-lib with ‘Everything about you is right’ that would cause anyone that loves good music to shiver slightly and feel the chills.

For Your Glory’ and ‘Grace’ slow things down a bit giving us songs that would be so appropriate for the Sunday morning drive to church preparing our hearts for the worship beyond.
I heard a cover of ‘Smile’ a while back on one of Tasha’s former indie releases and have loved it since then. It’s a great song. ‘Break Every Chain’ is that power song we always wait for on any gospel album we pick up. Filled with lots of declarations, prayer and faith, you would leave this one playing in your living room for a long time.

Tasha has a great big voice and what I love most about her music is her fearlessness in stepping beyond the boundaries, not being scared to infuse lots of creativity into the ‘old as days’ genre called Gospel. Lovers of Adele, Le’Andria Johnson, Jennifer Hudson, Helen Baylor, Crystal Lewis and Mary Alessi have a new friend, welcome Tasha Cobbs. This lady is sure here to stay.

[Review Originally Penned  For and Featured Courtesy of]


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