Tiffany Arbuckle Lee has never seemed like an artist who needed the music industry. Earlier in her career, she almost retired early before a fan’s story of how her music helped her deal with a childhood trauma made her rethink her decision and stay in the game. Thus, she has always given this impression that she’s not concerned with fame, just making music that will help people be comforted and encouraged by showing that someone can relate. Recently, she has come off of a five year hiatus to release her new album, Need You Now.
Stylistically, it’s very much a Plumb album. The darker, electronica influenced pop is still very much present and Arbuckle’s voice is as emotive and lovely as ever. Her style has always been something distinct, to the point where she is one of the rare instances of a Christian artist influencing a mainstream artist, in this case one Amy Lee of Evanescence fame. In the last few albums there have been brighter love songs since she is happily married, but this hasn’t drawn away from her normal style.
“Drifting,” the album’s lead single, features a guest appearance from Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay. It’s an easy standout of the album, with Haseltine and Arbuckle harmonizing beautifully. It deals with a lot of the themes that dominate Arbuckle’s music, hurt, depression, and ultimately hope. “Invisible” deals with similar themes as it slow burns from Arbuckle’s minor key piano playing to a louder, wall of sound chorus.
The album also features several love songs for her husband. In the past her love songs have always seemed cheesy, but so sincere and enjoyable musically that it was easy to let that go and just enjoy the song. That’s still true of this album, for instance, “Chocolate & Ice Cream” is hard not to like with its giddy, bouncy melody and playfully silly lyrics. It’s also hard not to like “Beautiful,” a simple love song with so much heart and sincerity that it’s easy to get drawn in.
If there’s any main criticism to be launched at the album, it’s that some of the lyrics veer towards the bland side of things. It’s not a major problem, since these are more like problems areas, not tainting the entire song as a whole. Arbuckle’s music is also good enough that it’s not that difficult to forgive some occasionally weak lyrics when the album is still so musically enjoyable. So, a weak line or two isn’t going to spoil what is otherwise a strong record.
If you’ve been looking forward to the new Plumb album, then go ahead and check it out. It’s a solid album that has a lot of fun, well written songs. Arbuckle’s voice is in great form and the mood shifts from the darker, more pensive songs to the more lighthearted material without seeming jarring or forced. It’s clear that Arbuckle means what she writes and sings and that allows her to win over just about any listener. It’s a good place to start if you’re just getting into Plumb and will keep her fans happy. Hopefully it doesn’t take another five years for her to release her next album.