Beautiful Lumps of Coal
- reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2003 1 Mar
While Plumb's vibrant 1997 self-titled debut and vivacious 2000 follow-up
Throughout every crest of that emotional roller coaster ride, Plumb documented each personal experience and drew upon several outside observations in hopes of gathering enough material for another project. In the end, 11 songs born from that growth period made their way onto the brand new
The hopeful tone of the disc is set from the get go with "Free," a liberating, soul-penetrating rock romp throughout which Plumb sheds her troubled past and cuts all the unhealthy ties that previously held her back. Over gutsy guitars and defining drums she sings: "Thought you had me all tied up in a little knot/You thought I'd go on living just like you till you asked me nicely to stop/But surprise I'm free to be the girl you tried to steal." With an equally potent spirit to survive, Plumb switches to a playful pop motif (in vein of Suzanne Vega) for "Sink 'N Swim,"an infectious radio-friendly cut about holding your head up high despite the shattering world around you.
Such thematic candor continues throughout the top-notch production and swirling orchestration of "Boys Don't Cry," where Plumb reminds listeners — especially the guys — that it's okay to shed a tear over past sins. The mournful chorus consistently reiterates our need to cry out to the Lord with our burdens rather than keeping them bottled up inside to the point they overwhelm us. Those stirring strings from "Boys Don't Cry" are fleshed out even further on "Taken," yet another track that highlights Plumb's vocal caress and brooding imagery as she sings about the death of her husband's ex-girlfriend. "Nine months after we started dating, she drowned while swimming in the river," recounts Plumb. "Not many people write songs about their husband's ex-girlfriends [but] she was very adamant that life is not just what we see right now. That represents a lot of what means so much to me in my marriage and as a woman."
Indeed Plumb's marriage is referred to in several instances as well, including the Alanis Morissette/Poe inspired "Hold Me" (about the sacredness of sexual unity) and the exuberant alternative gem "Without You" (on which Plumb ponders the pain of living without her husband). As pensive and poetic as she is on such selections, "Unnoticed" steps up Plumb's songwriting yet another notch, paying tribute to her grandparents (whom she calls models of unselfishness). Aside from learning a little bit about their self-sacrificing personalities, Plumb holds listeners accountable to the motivations behind their noble pursuits, inquiring: "Have you ever played the martyr only for the reason of the prize?"
Perhaps Plumb's biggest prize on
By the time the disc reaches its conclusion, Plumb will have spun listeners in a web of her endearing enchantment, reminding them why they fell in love with her in the first place. Not only is