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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • reviewed by Christa Banister Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Aug
Sounds like … the quick and jazzy vocal delivery of Jason Mraz combined with the soulful pop of Maroon 5 and the rootsy rock vibe of Marc Broussard or Warren BarfieldAt a glance …Needham's sound isn't exactly new, but there's an earnestness in his delivery and straightforward lyrics that's engaging in the same way Keith Green wasTrack Listing I Am New Lost at Sea Fence Riders Dearly Loved For Freedom Speak Make Me Sing Wake Up We Cry Holy Stand on Grace The Gospel Benediction

It's not uncommon for college students to earn some extra cash by getting a part-time job in addition to an already-demanding course schedule. But Jimmy Needham in essence works two full-time jobs as a history and philosophy double major at Texas A&M by day and a recording artist by weekend.

Despite the busy schedule, it's clear that Needham has a message to share, and that's something he does with passion and gusto on Speak. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Needham's songs are more pointed in their lyrical approach, especially "Fence Riders," "Wake Up," the title track, and the closing "Benediction." Which is not to be confused with over-the-top explicit or clichéd in expressing Christian faith, but rather refreshingly challenging words issued to fellow believers to avoid spiritual complacency and to become more intentional about sharing the gospel—something Needham does through a street-evangelism ministry in his college town. Given his more direct approach in these matters, it's not surprising that Needham cites Keith Green as a major influence.

However, while the bold lyrics certainly stand out, the soundtrack isn't nearly as compelling or distinctive. There's plenty to appreciate about the sound of Speak with Needham's soulful vocals and his span-the-genres approach—funky pop/rock one moment, earthy folk the next. But for those all too familiar with Jason Mraz, Marc Broussard, Warren Barfield, and Maroon 5, there's not much here that hasn't already been done before musically, and in most cases much better, save for the irresistible hand-clapping, finger-snapping vibe of "For Freedom." That said, Needham has youth and charisma working in his favor. As he continues to play more shows and, hopefully, find his own sound in the process, this promising singer/songwriter will have that much more to offer to his audiences.

© Christa Banister, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.