Jimmy Needham

Clear the Stage

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Hooking up with Ed Cash -- the man with four Producer of the Year trophies from the Gospel Music Awards -- Jimmy Needham's Clear the Stage is as bright and diverse as expected, but it's the songwriting growth and conceptual cohesiveness that really surprise. "Clear the stage and crush your idols" is the common theme, and that Needham takes on this quest with the most modern of sounds is interesting, although not distracting, as "I Will Find You" (finding Jesus in our celebrity-obsessed culture), "Daddy's Baby Girl" (bringing his daughter into said culture), and the yearning-for-truth trilogy of "Rock Bottom," "In the Middle," and "If I Ever Needed Grace" deliver thoughtful messages over the polish. Rapper Lecrae and worship leader Lizi Bailey are here to assist, and while they're well above welcome, Clear the Stage is surely Needham's album, establishing him as a more mature artist than before while still welcoming his audience with open arms.

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