Jimmy Needham packs soul into every song he sings. His latest effort, Clear the Stage (Inpop), brims with passion and raw, thought-provoking lyrics. Now a more seasoned musician and a new father, with a second child on the way, Needham’s life has been flavored by new experiences. Now, he’s ready to share these experiences with his fans. The Sound Opinion recently talked with Needham about honesty in songwriting, fatherhood and baring his soul on his latest project.
TSO: You’ve mentioned that this is your most personal and honest album to date. Why do you feel that it’s your most vulnerable?
Needham: On this record I’m really letting folks into the most real and uncensored parts of my personal life. On the philosophical level, I address my struggle to find Jesus ultimately satisfying. It hurts to write those things down, but I know it helps folks, too. On the personal level, I address not just the birth of my first daughter, but the painful road of miscarriages that led us to her. It’s just a very vulnerable project.
TSO: Is it scary to know that you’ve put yourself out there–all the good and the bad–on a record?
Needham: Not at all. If everyone knows my dirty secrets, what’s left to be ashamed or afraid of?
TSO: What was it like working with Ed Cash for the first time? What did he add to the project?
Needham: Ed is a genius, plain and simple. His musical vision is so understated. The best part about working with Ed, though, was what he was able to draw out of me during my vocal performances on the record. He was the first producer who cared that I believed what I was singing in the moments I was singing. He often challenged me to meditate on the content of the song before I sang. What followed was a vocal delivery that can be felt, and not just heard.
TSO: How has becoming a father affected your songwriting?
Needham: It’s made me more conscious of my need for God’s grace, which then translates into songs about that, like my song “If I Ever Needed Grace.” I’m more sensitive than I ever was to my complete inability to do anything right. I’m learning that that is a very good place to be.
TSO: There’s a lot of deep theology behind much of the lyrical content on this album. What fuels your writing?
Needham: I’m just a fellow trying to understand Jesus rightly and treasure Him supremely. My songwriting is an effort to share that journey with people. Many folks, unfortunately, listen more intently to a chorus than the Bible. I’m trying to make sure that when they hear my chorus, they hear the Bible.
TSO: What’s your best advice to someone with a deep desire to “clear the stage” in their own life?
Needham: Don’t just remove things. Replace them. “Not sinning” is not good enough. We are all wired to be addicts. Remove one addiction, and we’ll find another to take its place. It’s important to make sure the replacement is something that won’t fail to satisfy. I submit that only Jesus can do that. Sit with Him daily. Enjoy Him. Read His Word. Feast.
For more info, visit www.jimmyneedham.com.