Plumb Delivers a Dynamic Punch
Posted January 28, 2013
By JJFrancesco_NRT, Staff Reviewer
It's been quite a long time since the last full-length album by popular crossover artist Plumb released. It's been more than five years, to be exact, since 2007's Blink. And since that was a softer, lullaby approach. It's been a full seven years since 2006's Chaotic Resolve when we last had a Plumb album like what we've come to expect from Tiffany Arbuckle Lee. Sure, we've had a greatest hits collection with some terrific singles, but no complete album.
Over the past few years, this long-awaited release has been teased through clips and radio singles. It's been delayed I don't know how many times, and has even undergone a name change after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. However, after what seems like forever, Need You Now finally seems like it will make it to the hands of eager fans.
Now the question is: does it live up to all the hype built by the long wait? Definitely.
In 2011 and 2012 respectively, Plumb released "Drifting" and the title track as singles from the album. The former is a catchy radio song featuring the familiar vocals of Jars of Clay's Dan Hastletine. The two sound great together and the track almost feels old now since it's well over a year old. But it's a great song nonetheless and it's great that it finally has an album it can call home.
As for "Need You Now," and I am sure radio fans will agree… WOW! It's truly one of the most emotional and powerful tunes that Plumb has ever released, and that's saying something given the track record of amazing emotional ballads. But this song just takes that power and runs with it to a whole new level.
Plumb's vocals slam into your ears with an emotional power that makes every word resonate as an honest and heartfelt prayer. "How many times have you heard me cry out 'God please take this' / How many times have you given me strength to just keep breathing / Oh, I need you / God I need you now."
It's one of the most powerful choruses on the radio in recent years and one of the best songs released in 2012. It certainly merits being upgraded to the title track and still stands as an album highlight amidst a great album.
As for the new material, there's plenty of it, and it's quite varied. (I expect most of these songs will find new life in future remixes that Plumb songs are famous for becoming.) "Invisible" opens the record with a guitar-driven kick and the song itself is dark and mysterious. "Cage" brings the rock back towards the end of the album. This was the first song listeners got a preview to more than two years ago now.
Of course the real gems come in the form of the emotional ballads. "I Want You Here" is a heartbreaking song about the loss of a child and I suppose it fits into the tradition of "Boys Don't Cry" and "Cut" from earlier releases, dealing with deep emotional issues in an honest first-person account. The song itself feels heartbreaking in its honest portrayal of that unimaginable pain and Plumb's vocals meet the tough task of selling it too. I think given the aforementioned recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn., the lyrics carry a relevant weight. This and the title track are intense portrayals of crying out for God in the midst of trials.
It's not all glum though. "Say Your Name" and "I Don't Deserve You" are also terrific and emotional musical journeys with great melodies and vocals. There are truly a lot of potential hits here. Plumb does an excellent job with balancing radio friendliness with amazing music.
"Beautiful," "One Drop," "Unlovable," and "At Arm's Length" all add their musical touches to a terrific selection of great emotional music. "At Arm's Length" builds slowly into an emotional and epic finish. (I don't know why the quieter first half of the song has a "closing moments of a television drama" vibe to me.) The musical journey through this album is memorable and rewarding. With so many great songs, this album is already set this as one of 2013's most promising releases.
I suppose if there were a misstep, it'd be the quirky "Chocolate & Ice Cream." It's not a bad song by any means. It's peppy and likable. However, sandwiched between the powerful title track and the rousing "I Don't Deserve You," it sort of feels like the odd song out. The heavy themes and emotional delivery of the rest of the songs in the album feel like they lead into each other and belong together. While I suppose this does offer a happy counterbalance to the others, I do feel it sort of breaks up the emotional momentum. Perhaps it might have fared better being released as a B-side, as it is still a very good song.
Can I say "WOW" again? Plumb's really knocked this out of the park. The music is packed with a myriad of different emotions and Plumb sells all of it with passionate vocals. The music is top-notch and the lyrics honest. There's really little more you could ask for in music. The sound's very accessible. I'd bet this album could easily appeal to fans of top-selling mainstream pop, while still being more than pleasing to those of us who like some lyrical meat in our music. Start to finish, this latest album from Plumb is pretty darn amazing.
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