Not Without Love is the sophomore album from Inpop Records singer/songwriter Jimmy Needham. His major label debut came in the form of Speak in 2006. It was a very good introduction to Jimmy's acoustic-based style, catching the attention of critics and music lovers alike. Speak also garnered radio hits like "Lost At Sea," "Fence Riders," and "Dearly Loved," which helped to give Needham a place in the CCM industry. Sophomore albums are a vital key in the success of an artist, because it gives listeners a chance to hear growth in the artist's music. However, with Not Without Love, Jimmy Needham has hardly moved past his humble beginnings.
Songs like the catchy album opener "Come Around" and the album's first radio single, "A Breath Or Two," are classic upbeat Needham tunes. However, the majority of the album is made up of slower songs, especially towards the middle. The first of these is the beautiful "Hurricane." Other notable ballads include the made-for-radio "Before And After," "The Great Love Story," and the sweet "Unfailing Love," a song which Needham also sang at his recent wedding. But aside from those few gems, the rest of the album seems to get boring and lacks the magic of the first few songs. The only time Needham really gets out of his comfort zone is in "Firefly," in which he toys around with a fun, ragtime style.
Another thing that saves the album from failure is Needham's amazing knack for songwriting. His lyrics are never tiresome or clichéd, and are very inventive and thought-provoking. "The Author" is probably the best example of his poetic writing. Jimmy's voice also works exceptionally well with the style of the album. He has often been compared to Jason Mraz or John Mayer and rightfully so.
Listeners trying to find something new will sadly not find it here. Not Without Love feels a lot like a rehash of Speak in a stylistic sense. Jimmy's voice and songwriting are as good as always, but aside from a few highlights here and there, the music is mostly bland.- Review date: 8/17/08, written by Matthew Watson
Record Label: Inpop Records
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