Prime Cuts: Beautifully Broken, Impossible, Somebody Loves You
Overall grade: 3.5/5
Despite copious criticisms artists have had often (mis)fired against Curb Records, most of Plumb's albums under the imprint (save her previous album) were top-notched. There was an air of artistic mysticism pulsating underneath her brand of synth-rock that was somehow fascinating, alluring, and ultimately addictive. Every album Plumb released then was an event. Like kids wanting to open their parents on Christmas day, we couldn't help but be drawn into each track as she unwraps each note with creativity and unpredictability. Starting with "Need You Now" and reaching her nadir with 2015's "Exhale," she has abandoned her mysterious noir. Rather, she has jumped onto the bandwagon of CCM pop chasing after the ever ubiquitous tailor made for radio hit that has pillaged her charming individuality in return.
Plumb reached her career bathos with "Exhale." Three years later and having been emancipated from Curb Records, Plumb has released "Beautifully Broken" independently. "Beautifully Broken" isn't a giant leap away from the pop-centric "Exhale;" in fact, many of the songs still have the same slick commercial sheen which is not entirely bad, but it doesn't have that aura of mysticism and intrigue as Plumb's earlier efforts. Ever since the runaway success of "Need You Know," Plumb has been recycling the same sonic template again and again. Utilising the same dramatic pauses before an explosive chorus, "God Help Me" is this album's "Need You Know." It's not bad, but it's a little too predictable considering that the same song structure has been churning in the green bin for a quite a few rounds.
Much better is the title cut "Beautifully Broken" (a co-write of Plumb which has also been recorded by Cece Winans). A song that expresses hope in God despite our brokenness and disappointments, "Beautifully Broken" is a dynamic expression of the Gospel in action. The dance-infused "Impossible" is to be prided for its incessantly catchy melody that will get one humming in no time. While Plumb borrows a tinge of R&B on the pensive "Crazy Over You;" this time singing from the vantage point of how God views his children.
Coming closest to her earlier days where she allows her creativity to be at the fore is the story-ballad "Somebody Loves Me;" a song where hopelessness meets her loving Maker. Also of note is "Acrobat" - here she actually abandons her CCM propensity and actually allows her imagination to run free with enjoyable returns. Similarly, the bouncy fat beats of "Fight for You," with its serpentine melody, sound fresh and exciting. But all of these is enmeshed with the pedestrian "I'm Not Alone" which again echoes lots of borrowed bars from "Need You Know."
Though "Beautifully Broken" doesn't exactly distances itself from the commercial predictability that encased "Exhale," there are some slivers of hope and creativity. In fact, this album finds Plumb slowly but surely getting her creative intrigue back. Plumb is far too talented to colour herself into the shades of every other CCM artist. And this record is a small step towards what she is capable of.