Release Date: September 16th 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- One Drop
- I Want You Here
- Say Your Name
- Need You Now (How Many Times)
- Chocolate and Ice Cream
- Don’t Deserve You
- At Arm’s Length
- Starting Over
- Fall Back In
- Lord, I’m Ready Now
- Don’t Deserve You (Radio Mix)
- Need You Now (How Many Times) (Worship Mix)
The re-release. The album that is released again with a few new mixes, or even a few remixes. In whatever way you put it, the expanded edition of an album that’s always released a few months, or even years later (take expanded editions of albums from Abandon, Group 1 Crew, Peter Furler or Francesca Battistelli for example), creates some sort of a conundrum if you will. Considering that many listeners of these artists have purchased the standard editions of these albums when they were originally released, why would they purchase expanded editions in their entirety, when they have most of the songs? What makes this new album from Tiffany Arbuckle Lee (known by her stage name Plumb), which is her 2013 album, 4 new tracks and 2 re-recorded songs; worth it to check out on Spotify, or even purchase in its entirety at all?
Even if you don’t buy the album for yourself, Need You Now: Deluxe Edition is a great album to listen to and to purchase for a friend who doesn’t have Plumb’s most recent studio album yet, otherwise, it’s safe to say you can purchase individual tracks off iTunes, unless you really want a physical copy (maybe purchase the deluxe edition for yourself and give the standard edition away…). With Plumb having a career revival of sorts after a return from a 5 year hiatus, Plumb’s new passion to tell heartfelt stories about her own life and use that as an encouragement to others is enough for me to be excited for her new project. Releasing the expanded edition of her Dove Award nominated album concurrently with her autobiography Need You Now: The Story of Hope, Plumb’s reignited passion for music came out of a time where her own personal moments unveiled a sense of hurt and pain.
Now sharing her own stories of marital struggles in her own book and using these 4 songs as a real and honest way to look at life while still holding onto the notion that God is good; Plumb has given us a deluxe album and book that have virtually become one of the standout releases of 2014 so far. Never mind that these songs have been released before (well, most of them) in February 2013. Plumb and her music continues to have a big impact today, and this album release is sure to impact a lot of people, maybe even more than Plumb even intends to or can think of. I for one thoroughly enjoy this release, and would recommend it to anyone who loves similar artists like Jars of Clay, Natalie Grant, or Rebecca St. James.
This album is delivered in 2 sections- the first is the studio album, and the next is the additional songs. While I felt that maybe it would’ve been great to maybe remix a few songs, and make this new album release solely focused on the 4 new tracks (maybe a couple more songs done acoustically and have an 8 track EP?), Plumb nevertheless shows us why she is one of Christian music’s most popular female artists currently. Standout songs on the standard edition are plentiful. “One Drop” is one of the most enjoyable pop songs of 2013 that gives us a reminder by Plumb that ‘…just one drop of Your love, a single ray of sun, just one thing to change the world…’ (either speaking about love between her and her husband- or even between her and God) while “I Want You Here” is a poignant melody with strings and a heartfelt cry of Plumb that relays themes of questions and pondering whether God is in fact with us during the difficult times even if we may not feel Him (sort of like how Job felt in the Old Testament).
“Beautiful” is a thankfulness song from Plumb to her husband, about a love undeserving (complete with electronic keyboards, and Plumb’s eerily refreshing vocal), while “Drifting”, a duet with Jars of Clay frontman Dan Haseltine, speaks about us helping others who may be drifting in the ocean of hurt, despair and despondency. Plumb also tackles a myriad of difficult issues, from shunning out people we may see as being different or weird to us (“Unlovable”), to praying that others don’t cage us for the mistakes we make (“Cage”), and hoping to speak comforting words to a loved one in a problematic circumstance (“At Arm’s Length”).
Tiffany also vulnerably sings to either an ex-boyfriend, a friend who as passed away, or even a loved one who has gone away in “Say My Name”, that she can’t seem to let go of the moment of hurt and calamity. While this song is the most ‘pop’ and ‘mainstream’ on the album, this is also one of the most poignant. We can all relate to this type of pop song, and with questions like “when does the hurt I’m feeling become the healing I so badly want, and why can’t time heal my wounds when I know that time should?”; “Say My Name” is one of the most unique and hopefully impacting songs on her 2013 album.
The 6 remaining tracks could easily have been sold as a separate EP and I’m sure the sales of the songs would’ve still been profitable and popular. Nevertheless, these songs serve as a testament to Plumb’s faithfulness to God throughout her marriage difficulties, with all these 4 songs showing us in some way the process and glimpse into Plumb’s life these last few years- her own feelings, faults and frailties in the form of song. “Starting Over” begins with a percussion loop and tells the poignant story of the strain that was on Plumb’s marriage towards the end of the recording of Need You Now– while they are currently still together, the song shows us the reality that sometimes marriage is hard. The chorus shows Plumb declaring that ‘…I’m gonna love you with all that I’ve got, like it or not, no matter how hard…’– which is a hard thing to declare especially in our culture of divorce and separation. Loving someone and sticking through the hard times is difficult, yet shown in this song, and others on this 18 track album, that it’s worth the risk and the time involved.
The three remaining original tracks, “Fall Back In”, “Faithful” and “Lord I’m Ready Now”, show a progression of the marriage of Plumb and her husband Jeremy, from in the difficult times crying out to the Lord and begging to do whatever is needed to save the marriage (“Fall Back In”), to falling in love with Jesus all over again as a single mother during trial separation (“Faithful”) and looking from the other side through reconciliation believing that hope carried them through (“Lord I’m Ready Now”). While the first 12 tracks didn’t have much of a story to tell (except for the little stories within the songs), these four songs showcase a theme that threads throughout- hope.
From the piano riffs in “Fall Back In” and the desperation in the cries of ‘…what can I do to make you love me? What I can I do, what can I do?…’, to the eerily relaxing “Faithful” and the comfort that comes with knowing that ‘…You are faithful to me, I am not afraid no matter where I go, You will never leave me, in You I am home…’; we are brought with a message of how God weaves through all our circumstances, even the broken and seemingly unfixable ones. Seeing the end how ‘…Lord I’m ready now, all the walls are down, time is running out, and I wanna make this count…’ (“Lord I’m Ready Now”) may not necessarily bring us to trust God more (because honestly, if you know how this part of our story ends, would we change anything leading up to this point?), but if we trust the big picture God is painting, we can rest in our Saviour’s love, leading us to the last 2 songs on the album- a radio version of “Don’t Deserve You” and a more reflective rendition of “Need You Now”.
Both songs carry the theme of us not deserving God’s love and needing Him in the moments of calamity and unsure moments, and both songs are rerecorded in unique ways- “Don’t Deserve You” with more percussion and a radio friendly appeal, and “Need You Now” placing the piano in the forefront. A great way to end frankly one of the standout pop albums of 2013 (and a well-deserved Dove Nomination as well); Need You Now was a great comeback album, and Need You Now: Deluxe Edition is a great follow-up. Arguably one of my favourite Plumb albums since Candycoatedwaterdrops, Need You Now shows a vulnerability seen less and less within not just Christian music, but in music in general.
From transitioning from being in a band, to solo, hiatus and now back to touring and making music, this expanded edition of one of 2013’s top selling CCM albums, alongside her new book, is sure to be a great highlight in September 2014 in not only the CCM community but in the mainstream as well. From “Cut” to “Real”, “In My Arms” and “God Shaped Hole”; fans of Plumb’s older melodies, and other artists like Jars of Clay or Natalie Grant will be sure to check out Need You Now: Deluxe Edition. Well done Tiffany (a.k.a. Plumb) for such an inspiring and powerful album!
5 songs to listen to: Faithful, Don’t Deserve You (radio mix), One Drop, Say My Name, Fall Back In
RIYL: Natalie Grant, Rebecca St. James, Jars of Clay, BarlowGirl