Release Date: December 4th 2015
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Jimmy Needham– Coal No More (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- O Come All Ye Faithful
- I’ll Be Home For Christmas
- If Jesus Was Like Santa Claus
One of today’s most eclectic and diverse musical artists, Jimmy Needham has tried, and succeeded in blending pop, r&b, jazz, soul, gospel, motown and funk all together over all of his albums since 2006, in a genre that is so unique that it literally demands attention. His collaborations with rappers Lecrae and Trip Lee being the standout moments of his career; Jimmy’s most recent studio album Vice And Virtue this year, his debut on Platinum Pop, is one of the few albums of 2015 that is musically a breath of fresh air. Songs such as the title track, “Thank You”, “Mr Nice Guy”, the Randy Travis penned “Forever And Ever Amen” and the spoken word epic album ender “The Story (Spoken Word)” are all, personally, album and maybe even career song highlights. Fast forward to December, and Jimmy officially boards onto the Christmas cheer bandwagon, with his latest 3 song EP offering. Coal No More is a short but to the point 10-minute long release, that has us basking in God’s goodness and celebrating the day when he came to earth as a baby in a manger to save the world. Yet although it is indeed Christmas Day in most countries around the world, and the time to listen to Christmas music is rapidly coming to a close (although it wouldn’t faze me if I listen to Christmas music all year around…); Jimmy’s collection of holiday songs are a must to listen to, as we praise our Lord and Saviour for loving us so much to send us Jesus.
With Jimmy’s unique musical style, it’s hard not to be amazed and transfixed by the songs that he delivers. Opening with a praise song “O Come All Ye Faithful”, we are immediately introduced to captivating synth, the introduction of brass instruments and a jazz undertone that has us dancing and moving our feet. The inclusion of a gospel choir singing backing vocals also gives the melody extra depth and a new fresh perspective. As Jimmy eloquently and majestically declares ‘…o come let us adore Him, o come let us adore Him, o come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord…’ against a musical backdrop similar to that of newworldson and Chris August; I am yet again amazed and impressed by Jimmy’s desire to lift God’s name on high as well as his ability to stay relevant musically yet true to his own style. “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, led by vibrant keys and sung with a more upbeat tempo, usually is a track that I’m getting tired of, due to the number of times it is covered by Christian and mainstream artists alike. But the surprising thing about Jimmy’s version is that his soul/gospel/jazz/funk version makes me excited for the song which relays how the persona wants to spend the holidays with his loved ones, and to treasure the special times in life. Jimmy’s added refrain of the first verse of “The Christmas Song”, cleverly embedded in this track, is a great inclusion here also.
Yet it is the original synth and keys led gospel infused mid-tempo ballad “If Jesus Was Like Santa Claus”, that is the most revealing melody, that deserves the most attention. Through imagery and metaphors, Jimmy fervently outlines that if Jesus was like Santa ‘…brother I’d be on the naughty list, cause all the good I tried to do can’t compare to all the bad I did, he would fly right over my house, Christmas only would be such a letdown…every single year oh it would be the same…under the tree, nothing for me…’. Yet the hopeful part of the song is at the end when Jimmy reveals that Jesus isn’t like Santa at all. Outlining that ‘…cause even though I break His laws, He takes the bad that I deserve, and nails it up upon the cross, even the worst of us can take His hand, and never see an ounce of coal again…’, we are given reassurance that in the worst of times, Jesus is right there with us, guiding us through life, and giving us a second chance. What a wonderful God we serve and live for, and thanks to Jimmy for pointing that eternal truth out to us!
Jimmy has done it again- he has created another versatile and musically diverse release. Though only short at 3 songs, I absolutely am amazed that Jimmy has wowed us again like he always has. Relevant, challenging yet also respectful and unassuming, Jimmy Needham highlights his versatility with his signature jazz/pop tunes, as well an original Christmas melody that ultimately spells out the gospel. Since moving off Inpop Records and now moving onto Platinum Pop; this new batch of songs continues his new beginning that I look most forward to, as Jimmy walks in the path God has placed him on. Well done Jimmy for recording a Christmas EP full of hope, truth and life,, and I can’t wait to see what God has for you in store in the future!
3 songs to listen to: All Of Them
RIYL: Unspoken, Chris August, Consumed By Fire, Jonathan Thulin, Jeremy Rosado