Nightlights (Deluxe Edition)
Beneath the sweet-soul surface of Jimmy Needham’s music lies an underpinning of Scripturally rooted wisdom. On his fourth album Nightlights, he extends his R&B-based approach while continuing to address issues of faith from an Everyman perspective. Needham’s lyrics delve into timeless themes (often in Biblical language) without sacrificing his smooth sonic flow. The slippery shuffle of “Steal Away,” the reggaefied groove of “Being Small” and the acoustic-based glow of “Light of Day” are at once engaging and reflective. At times — especially in “Right Where You Are” and “Moving to Zion” — Needham seems to be channeling the gospel fervor of classic Stevie Wonder. Even more explicitly retro-soul is his zesty cover of Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet it Is.” Songs like “Grace Amazing” (a team-up with rapper Trip Lee) take a more modern tack, fusing rock and hip-hop elements. The album’s spoken word title track testifies to his fierce and resolute love of God, summing up the fervent spiritual message of Nightlights as a whole.