Singer and songwriter Jimmy Needham has released his new seventh studio album, Vice & Virtue. The new collection of songs, produced by Will Hunt (Crowder, Shane & Shane), marks Needham's first project to be released by his new label, Platinum Pop Records.
Hallels: So grateful Jimmy for your time. Congratulations on the release of your new album "Vice and Virtue." I have read that the album was inspired by a study of Tim Keller on the book of Galatians. Tell us a little bit more how Tim Keller influenced you on this record.
J: I was given a copy of Keller's Galatians Bible Study from one of the pastors at the Village Church in Dallas. I was in a prolonged season of low grade depression and was hungry for answers as to why. God showed me through his Word what my main issue was: I was relying on my spiritual track record to give me my sense of worth, thinking that my obedience was what validated me as a person, as a Christian. Paul in Galatians kept driving home the fact that if we rely on ANYTHING, even our good works for God, as our means of justification, we are no longer believing the biblical gospel. This news freed me to repent accurately of, as Keller puts it, "avoiding Christ as Savior". This record is an outworking of those thoughts.
Hallels: Why did you call this album "Vice and Virtue"?
J: In most people's minds those two words are worlds apart. I'm trying to make the case that they can have more in common with each other than we think. Here's the question this album poses to us: If we behave and are "virtuous" only to give us a sense of moral superiority, to put God in our debt or find our self-worth in being a "good person", are our good works really good? Like the first line of the album says, "there's vice in all my virtue".
Hallels: Of the title cut "Vice and Virtue," you have said that it's the most offensive song you have had ever written. What do you mean by that?
J: It's easy for an axe murderer to see that he's evil and needs grace. It's MUCH harder for a church kid, or a sunday school teacher, or a law abiding citizen to see the same evil in themselves. This song attempts to level the playing field by pointing out that even the best of us are as bad as the worst of us. This song offends nice people like myself, and nice people don't like being told they might not be as nice as they think.
Hallels: On the album, you have also covered Randy Travis' #1 smash "Forever and Ever, Amen." Why this cover? And are you a country music fan?
J: My dad always had country radio on as a kid. I love old school country music. But I can't shake my love for soul music either. I thought by covering this amazing song that it would give me a chance to explore both sides of my musical interest at once. Honky tonk with a horn section. : )
Hallels: You have also said that this album is made for the church. In what ways do these songs speak to the body of Christ?
J: As I said earlier, us church folks have a really hard time that, at our core, we're really no different than Dahmer or ISIS. I hope that the religious community can hear these songs and do some self-examination to see where we are more proud of our Christian behaviors than our Christ.
Hallels: While you were making this album, what was the most memorable part of making this album?
J: The night I finished all the remaining vocal parts for the album. I believe it was 2 days before the New Year. 6 months prior I had completely ravaged my voice from over-singing and under-resting. It was so bad that I couldn't speak for weeks. I didn't think I would ever be able to sing again, much less finish the record. God in his grace strenghtened me just in time to meet our deadline to turn the songs in and it was a big faith strengthener for me.
Hallels: I believe you are currently touring. What can our readers expect when they come out to see you? And where can they find out about your touring details?
J: The way I try to explain a Jimmy Needham concert is: We get funky, and we go deep. I think they can expect a big dose of both of those things. You can see my current tour schedule on jimmyneedham.com.