Jimmy Needham has been compared to the secular icon Jason Mraz, who is known for his quick, witty lyricism and toe-tapping melodies. Needham mimics Mraz in a huge way, sometimes sounding exactly like his secular counterpart. He even has the thought provoking yet strikingly truthful lyrics at times: "Can I sing about my maker, and not have you roll your eyes?" from the light rocker "Fence Riders." Another rocker is the title track, "Speak," in which Needham talks of us as believers needing to open our mouths and talk about the Lord, instead of just trusting our walks to do all the talking. Other highlights on Speak include the catchy "Lost At Sea," the delightful rock-laced "Make Me Sing," and the beautiful ballad "Dearly Loved."
The only problem I see with Needham's debut may be some of his vocals. He strains some of the high notes sometimes, particularly in "Wake Up," and his signing hit "For Freedom." On the majority of the album, Jimmy keeps this high pitch at bay, but when it comes out, it just doesn't seem to work. Another problem is found within certain aspects of "We Cry Holy" and "Stand on Grace," where the heavy rock sounds just about drown out his voice, making for an almost unpleasant worship experience. He pulls it off, but not without risking the loss of his vocals amidst the noise.
After all is said and done, Jimmy Needham's debut from Inpop Records will likely attract Christian and secular market fans, particularly those from the top 40 crowd. Anyone looking for a Jason Mraz alternative need to look no further than Jimmy Needham. People looking for a little more substance than that probably won't find it in Speak.- Review date: 10/16/06, written by Justin Mabee
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