New Music Pick of The Week: Plumb’s Need You Now

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I have a theory that all good things can be traced back in one way or another to the great state of Indiana.  For instance, in basketball Indiana is home to the legendary Larry Bird.  (That fact alone should settle this debate, but I’ll go on.)  Abraham Lincoln spent his formative years (7-12) in Indiana.  The awesomely funny TV show Parks & Rec is based on the fictional Pawnee, Indiana.  Famed movie director Sydney Pollack and actors James Dean and Steve McQueen are all from Indiana.  David Letterman and Red Skelton are both from Indiana.  In terms of music, Indiana is the home to an eclectic mix of talent:  Axl Rose, Michael Jackson, and Jon Mellencamp, to name but three.

In the world of Christian Music, even more good things can be traced back to Indiana.  Rich Mullins is from Indiana.  Gospel music veterans Bill Gaither, Danny Gaither and Gloria Gaither (and probably the rest of the Gaithers!) are from Indiana.  Jeremy Camp is a Hoosier native from Lafayette, Indiana.  Both Royal Tailor and the Sidewalk Prophets originally began to form in Indiana while founding members attended the same college.  (The Sidewalk Prophets lead singer, Dave Frey, hails from Terre Haute, Indiana.)

Even with Indiana’s great musical tradition in mind, perhaps one of the most evocative and powerful female voices from this fine state is the simply named Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, an  Indianapolis native.

You might know her better by her stage name, Plumb.

Plumb has a crazy amazing resume spanning the course of the last decade.  She’s written for Jaci Velasquez, Michelle Branch and Mandy Moore.  She’s a repeat performer in the #1 spot on the charts (come to think of it, right now she’s holding down the #1 and #4 spots with two of her songs, I Want You Here and Need You Know.  She’s also sitting pretty on the iTunes new release chart smack dab between Taylor Swift and Rihanna.  You know, no biggie!)   Her songs are sort of  TV/movie placement phenomenons, being featured in everything from the film Bruce Almighty to the Vampire Diaries and One Tree Hill.  (I’m also pretty sure that was Plumb’s Need You Now (How Many Times) I heard on Pretty Little Liars tonight.)

While all of these accomplishments that  Plumb has racked up over the past ten years are pretty impressive, you’ll be even more impressed when you listen to her new album Need You Now (How Many Times) that released today, February 26th, 2013.

Simply put, Need You Now (How Many Times) is superb.

Plumb has positioned Need You Now (How Many Times) as the album of 2013 that other artists(particularly of the female variety) are only going to be able to dream about being like.

In the past, I have been somewhat of an outspoken advocate for the need for more positive, super talented, authentic female artists in Christian music.  This is not a bash against the guys in any way, but clearly the females are way outnumbered in this particular genre of music.  (Case in point:  on the WinterJam tour, there are currently 10 musical acts, only one of which (Jamie Grace) is a female performer.  The Rock & Worship Road Show has 8 musical acts and zero  female performers.)

Thank heavens for Plumb; she’s the real deal, exactly the kind of artist I would have hand-picked to fill the female void in Christian music.  One of the things I love the most about Plumb is that she’s not some anodized puppet with sugar for the coating.  As the biography provided by her Media Rep rightfully states, “She has a reputation to tell it like it is, giving an honest view of life while always showing the hope and light in every situation.”

It is this reputation, combined with Lee’s creative self-assuredness as an artist and her unparalleled voice, that give Plumb a suprising vantage point from which she can share her remarkable gift of music.

For sure, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Plumb’s Need You Now (How Many Times) is a beautiful amalgamation of striking raw emotion and authentic truths.  Her lyrics are at times intensely sobering while at other times hopefully melodic and teeming with bold optimism.  While Need You Now (How Many Times) is branded under the name Plumb, there is little doubt in my mind that this album is the true life story of Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, the wife and mother of three young children.

Her story is also in a way my story, and maybe even yours, too.  It’s a relatable and riveting story, beautiful but sometimes sad, filled with moments of both laughter and love, mistakes and loss.

Most of all, it’s a story that highlights the hope that we all have in Jesus Christ.

This is one album I highly recommend without reservation.  From beginning to end, Need You Now (How Many Times) is must have music.  For sure, you don’t want to miss the standout tracks Beautiful, One Drop, I Want You Here, Chocolate & Ice Cream, I Don’t Deserve You (with Paul van Dyk), and my favorite of favorites, Drifting (with Jars of Clay frontman Dan Haseltine).  (Side note:  I assume that it goes without saying that Need You Now is 5 Star track.  If you haven’t heard Need You Now by now, you must be living under a rock somewhere without radio stations, TV, or internet…and with that being said, you probably would not have made your way here to my blog.)

For a little sample of just how amazing Plumb is, check out the YouTube video below of her performing Need You Now.  (You may want to head to iTunes first and start the download of Need You Now (How Many Times) before you start the video…that way, you’ll be all set to listen to the album in its entirety when you’ve finished watching the video!  Just a suggestion, because I care 🙂

Winter Jam Tour–Royal Tailor Review

If a was a gambler, one of the groups I would have bet the house on to put on a dazzling, crowd-pleasing, high energy show at Winter Jam that would not be soon forgotten was the band Royal Tailor.  I’ve seen Royal Tailor twice before, and I have a sneaking suspicion that when TobyMac wrote the song “Steal My Show” he was really talking about the guys from Royal Tailor because they definitely have some show stealing worthy talent.  (Just kidding about the TobyMac thing—I actually love the true meaning behind tobyMac’s Steal My Show!)

If I had gambled my house on Royal Tailor’s Fort Wayne Winter Jam performance on January 20th, I would have won it back—and then some.  Royal Tailor, which is made up of lead vocalist Tauren Wells, DJ Cox on guitar and backing vocals, Blake Hubbard on bass guitar and backing vocals, and Jarrod Ingram on drums, put on a spectacular performance at Winter Jam.  Soaring, and at time dueling, guitar solos compliments of DJ and Blake, combined with Tauren’s fiery lead vocals and a-m-a-z-i-n-g dance moves and Jarrod’s solid work on the drums drove the crowd to near insanity levels.

It was super fun!

Red may have brought real fire, but Royal Tailor quite literally lit the place up with their raw musical talent and emotionally provoking, inspired song lyrics.  I also have to give Royal Tailor kudos for being, at least in my humble opinion, the best dressed bunch of the night.

Seriously, folks, these guys have not just style, but flair.

Anyways, I think I took a bazillion pictures of Royal Tailor during their performance and they pretty much all turned out awesome.  Enjoy!  (And by all means, if you ever get the chance to go see Royal Tailor in concert anywhere, GO!!!)

Winter Jam Pick #4–Royal Tailor

Okay, so here’s the deal about Royal Tailor.

They rock.

Seriously, they do.

I’ve seen Royal Tailor in concert a few times and had the opportunity to meet Tauren, DJ, Blake, and Jarrod, and let me just say for the record that they may be the nicest, most talented, biggest hearted guys for the Lord around. I would also like to say that they could probably do a 15 minute set at Winter Jam featuring toddler tunes like “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and “Bingo”, and it would be completely awesome and inspiring.

So, if I’m being completely honest I don’t really have one song in particular I’m hoping to hear Royal Tailor perform on Sunday night. Pretty much any song will do. I like ’em all. What I am really hoping for, however, is to see a few of lead singer Tauren’s famous backflips; granted, I hope to see less than three because I bet my friend Samantha he would not do any more than 2-3 (she thinks he is going to do 4 or more).

Irregardless of how many backflips occur on stage on Sunday night, I’m quite certain Royal Tailor’s performance will be one of the high points of the night!

Royal Tailor News, 1/15/2013

This morning, Tauren Wells (lead singer for Royal Tailor) was on WBCL 90.3’s morning show with Phil & Larry here in Fort Wayne, and of course, seeing as how I write a Christian Music blog, I had to tune in.  (Well, even if I didn’t have the blog I probably would have listened anyway.  I’m a fan of Royal Tailor’s music and the good works they are doing with youth!)  I don’t normally write about interviews that I hear on the radio, but in this instance, I promised my young friend Samantha (who is most likely the world’s biggest Royal Tailor fan) that I would post a full summary of the interview on my blog since her mean mom made her go to school today even though it meant she had to miss Tauren’s interview on the radio.  (Some mothers!  Geesh!)

First up on the interview’s agenda was nothing really new for the die-hard Royal Tailor fan like Samantha, or even the novice Christian music blogger like myself.  The band met in college, and while this was not said in the interview, I believe the Bible college they all went to was in  Indiana.  (Further proof good things come from Indiana!)  They’ve been together as a band now for four years, and had a pretty fantastic 2012 on the Come to the Well Tour (Casting Crowns, Matthew West, Lindsay McCaul) and Worth More Than Gold tour (Britt Nicole and Group 1 Crew).  Tauren also discussed the band’s work with youth, particularly the successful ‘Making the Band’ program they did while youth workers, and Camp Electric, a similar program they teach at with the likes of TobyMac.

In one of the lighter moments of the interview, Phil asked Tauren if he had ever been to Winter Jam before just as a concert goer.  Tauren admitted that no, he had not, that this would be his first experience with Winter Jam.  Then, the guys discussed Royal Tailor’s 15 minute set, which Tauren promised would be “the most exhilarating, life changing 15 minutes ever.”  Now, I’ve seen Royal Tailor perform twice in the last year, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this were the case.  They are really that good.

Larry asked Tauren one of the more pressing questions in my mind about Royal Tailor:  “When can we expect some new music?”  According to Tauren, the band hasn’t started the process yet; they feel there are still a lot of people out there that need to hear the band’s debut album, Black and White.  Tauren added that probably after Winter Jam is over they will begin moving more in the direction of preparing for their next album.

Just because there isn’t any new music on the horizon for Royal Tailor doesn’t mean any new projects aren’t currently in development 🙂  During the interview, Tauren revealed some pretty exciting news:  in April, the Royal Tailor family (and the Wells family!) is going to grow a little bigger when Tauren’s wife gives birth to a new baby boy!    May God bless the Wells family during this exciting time!

There you have it, my summary of this morning’s interview.  All in all, I thought it was a great interview–Tauren is very well spoken, and Phil and Larry asked some good questions, although they did neglect to ask perhaps the most important question of all (at least, in my opinion anyways!):  Just how many back flips is Tauren planning for Sunday night?  More than three?  Three or less?  I’m thinking two or three, but Samantha thinks it will be more than three, probably four.  I guess we’ll just have to wait until Sunday to find out!

I Officially Declare Next Sunday…Winter Jam!

Winter Jam

So if you live in the currently cold and dreary Fort Wayne, Indiana or surrounding area, I bet I know what you are thinking about today 🙂

Winter Jam is less than 1 week away!!

Personally, I think Winter Jam day in Fort Wayne should be declared an official holiday (as well as the day after Winter Jam, because really, who wants to go to work after having that much fun the night before?  It could be dangerous to a person’s health…well, it could!)

I know out of the 365 days in a calendar year, the days I look forward to the most are as follows:

  1. Christmas
  2. Easter
  3. Winter Jam

As you might imagine, I’m starting to get pretty excited right about now.  Also making me super-duper excited this year for Winter Jam is the sweet line-up, which includes not just one of my favorites, not two, not even three, but four of my very favorite performers from 2013.  (For those of you wondering, I’m talking about the Sidewalk Prophets, Mr. TobyMac, Matthew West, and Royal Tailor.)

Since I’ll probably be twiddling most of my week away daydreaming about the upcoming Winter Jam, I have decided that I might as well do something productive with my time and write a countdown this week of the songs/performances I am most looking forward to next Sunday at Winter Jam at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.

Which song/performers will come out on top as my #1 pick?  Will it be Matthew West?  The Sidewalk Prophets?  Or perhaps the master showman himself, Mr. TobyMac?

Yeah, I’m not telling.  You’ll have to wait until next week to find out.

In the meantime, however, you’ll be able to enjoy some fun snippets from me about my favorite songs.  I’ll also share the tunes on Spotify and the official videos via YouTube.  You can also take a minute and vote for your favorite song/performers at Winter Jam !

Enjoy…and if you’re in Fort Wayne, I’ll see you next Sunday!


The Death of Me


Happy New Year!

May this year be the death of me (and you!)

Now, before you start freaking out, wondering what brand of insanity I’m pedaling today, please give me a minute to explain myself.

You see, lately I’ve had the inexplicable feeling that I’ve got a little too much of me and my own selfish interests going on and not nearly enough of Jesus and His interests going on. In my defense, I’ve been busy closing out one chapter of my life and moving on with another one, one that I feel called by God to pursue, but at the same time I’m sort of caught up in all the earthly stuff that, while necessary, is simultaneously exhausting and annoying.

Tax paperwork and licensing regulations and copy machine paper jams, you know I’m talking about you.

In other words, I had started to fall into the trap that devil really loves to snare me in: getting me to think that somehow I’m the one in control here. I’m a lot like the disciple Peter in the fact that I can walk on water as long as I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus; unfortunately for me, just like Peter, I have a hard time focusing and isn’t long before my eyes gravitate away from Him and towards the stacks of junk mail and umpteen million files that need to be reorganized like, yesterday.

With this in mind, the other day I was walking down the hallway of my home past my son’s bedroom my heart was feeling pretty heavy. My eyes, and my heart, were not where they needed to be and as a consequence, I was sinking, and sinking fast.

I paused outside of six year old Alex’s bedroom and heard him sweetly swinging from his fire truck bunk bed. He was lying on his back, arms tucked behind his head and black Converse covered feet crossed as he stretched out across his Mario Kart bedspread. His eyes were closed and earphones were in place as he listened to his iTouch.

“This is the death of me oh oh oh, the death of me oh oh oh,” Alex very clearly sang, “the death of me oh oh oh.”

These words coming from my six year old pretty much stopped me dead in my tracks. As a general rule, Alex only listens to for King & Country, and I knew for sure this wasn’t a for King & Country tune.

I briefly wondered “What kind of mother are you to let your six year old listen to a song like this?”

Then, Alex continued to sing, “But now that I’m free I finally see living’s worth dying for.” He continued, “Buried with you you’re making me new, the old me’s dead and gone. This is the death of me…”

With those words, I recognized the song Alex was singing as Royal Tailor’s ‘Death of Me’.

I smiled at Alex and continued to walk down the hallway into the living room as Alex’s little voice resonated with me on my way.

In the living room, I sat down on the couch and pulled open my laptop and did a quick search for the lyrics to ‘Death of Me’. The words I read really touched my heart in the place I was in.

(The following are the lyrics to ‘Death of Me’ by Royal Tailor. I omitted the chorus which is what Alex sang that is written above):

Lost, I was wandering around
Hoping I could find a place
I’d be more than just a face in the crowd
I heard one day You came
Turned the lost into the saved
Now You’re showing me the way
All along I’ve been believing I was living
But now that I’m free I finally see
Living’s worth dying for
Buried with You
You’re making me new
The old me’s dead and gone
Your words were just ink on a page
Always so hard to believe
Until You revealed to me that
Your love stepped into the world
Now my past has been erased
‘Cause You saved me with Your grace, Your grace
All along I’ve been believing I was living
No more holding on to all my secrets
No more living with these broken pieces
Now my life’s been changed
Today is a new day
And I’ll never be the same
No, no, no

I’m really thankful to Alex, and Royal Tailor, for reminding me in my heavy heartedness what is really true and important in this world.

I’m alive in Christ!

To all the copy paper jams, tax paperwork, and licensing regulators, and to the pain and mistakes of my past—I’m dead to you. You can’t touch me anymore, because I’m living for Christ.

May this be the death of me!

This year, I hope you’ll join me in bringing these words of Royal Tailor to life as you die to all of the pain and hurt that is inside of you and begin living for the man who died for you and for me.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

-Philippians 1:21