Clear the Stage
Clear the Stage marks an artistic advance for Jimmy Needham. While this Texas native has long displayed a socially conscious outlook, his fifth album stands out for its ability to link his own experience as a husband and father with larger faith-centered themes. The intimate relationship between man and God is the overriding message, explored with lyrical sensitivity and rhythmic flow on "If I Ever Needed Grace,” “In the Middle,” “The Only One," and similar tracks. The cool bounce of “Rock Bottom” and the acoustic glide of “Stay” (a duet with worship leader Lizi Bailey) give Needham’s high, clear-toned tenor room to shine. “I Will Find You” (featuring rapper Lacreae) searches for redemption amid today’s glamour-obsessed culture, while the title tune matches a call for spiritual renewal with a rising ballad melody. Veteran studio hand Ed Cash keeps the production crisp and understated, with just enough old-school R&B and jazz touches to lend the arrangements distinctive color. With Clear the Stage, Needham fully makes the transition from promising newcomer into front-rank artist.