Jimmy Needham is a Christian artist and it's easy to tell, even with a quick listen, that he's passionate about his faith. What isn't so apparent from just a quick listen though is the depth of this young man's talent; grasping that requires a listen all the way through.
Needham selected some well-known hymns for The Hymn Sessions Vol. 1 but he has contemporized them; "How Great Thou Art" for example is performed to a dreamy jazz/pop beat and with rapping from guest Trip Lee. But it is Needham's voice, soulful and emotive and not unlike that of John Mayer that steals the spotlight on songs like "Rock of Ages" where his voice bounces along joyously like it is crowd surfing atop the accompanying bed of handclaps and popping percussion, and on the self-penned and Motown-funky "Joyful, Joyful" where he hits high notes worthy of the late Curtis Mayfield.
Another album highlight is a swinging jazz interpretation of the ancient "Come Thou Fount;" embellished with horns and rhythmic finger snapping the song sounds like Gospel brunch with Michael Buble. Needham even throws in a brief, awe-inspiring cover of the traditional Easter hymn "Christos Anesti;" the somewhat Gothic-leaning song could be mistaken for the type of interlude that a progressive metal band would use as an ominous lead-in, teasing their listeners with something sublime before bringing the thunder.
If you're of the mindset that hymns are somber and stodgy you'd better think again; Needham's style of musical worship is nothing short of pure fun.
Purchase The Hymn Sessions Vol. 1 at iTunes here
Visit his official website here.