Clear The Stage, Jimmy Needham's fourth studio album, clearly is sending out the message of "Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze, If that's the measure you must take to crush the idols," which can be found in the album's title track. However, you don't have to wait for that final track to see where Jimmy is traveling with this release: finding a full dependence on God alone.
The opening track was not at all what I had expected. The song can be musically described as funky, with Jimmy creatively collaborating with Lecrae, who spits "So I'm done bein' trapped and lonely. Found a new life and I scrapped the old me. Made a scrapbook called a testimony. If you knew me, the new me is how you know me." The two work together to make a stand-out song. The funkiness pretty much stops there, however. The remainder of the album mostly carries an easy listening/blues vibe that I had been expecting. However, the tempo doesn't vary too much and the songs tend to blend with one another near the middle of the album.
The theme of "Clear The Stage" cannot be missed as it is weaved throughout the entire album. Needham is focused on eternity and drawing closer to God. You can't miss the personal need to be closer to the Savior. Songs like "If I Ever Needed Grace," "Rock Bottom," and "In The Middle" lay it on thick and nicely, with the last containing the beautiful words "If pain is the ocean you are swimmin' in, If I can't pull you out, I'm divin' in." Each song mentioned is a clear expression of the writer's search to seek out Jesus more every day and through every struggle. "Daddy's Baby Girl" is a sweet addition about his daughter and can be fully appreciated by anyone with a little girl of their own. Other songs, while delivering sound messages, don't quite have the same appeal. They're too much like every other song musically, which after awhile tends to blend into the impression of repetition.
Overall, the ten track listing is mostly what I came to hear. You've got some good ol' pop-filled blues with very intimate lyrical content. It's a great album to chill out to and to truly worship our Maker with. However, if you're looking for something fast-paced and musically diverse, you may want to steer clear of Clear the Stage.
- Review date: 3/18/12, written by Kevin Hoskins of Jesusfreakhideout.com