Plumb (Tiffany Lee) separates herself from the Contemporary Christian crowd with her lyrics and genre-bending music, sometimes alternative rock or electronic dance music, that just doesn’t fit into the peg holes of genre. She seems less willing to follow a winning formula for popularity and more willing to open the nitty, gritty world of living the Christian life in this “not yet” time. She does so in spades in Exhale. It is a worship album without being insipid elevator music and rather than being based on general theology, she lays out how her theological-wheel met asphalt; it lives where rubber meets the road.
So we have a story, Tiffany Lee’s story, of heartbreak (her husband left her), resurrection (they later remarried) and new life as she moves forward. While it’s always dangerous to base your theology on your own experience (hence, God’s revealed word), seeing God’s grace lived out can be inspiring. Plan to be inspired by this album.
Musically, this album is much closer to Contemporary Christian than, say, her album Chaotic Resolve. In many ways, I miss that Plumb, but I understand that this music is intended for use with worship and so needs to be a bit more accessible (read, easier to sing). As I noted above, it’s musically more interesting than much of cookie-cutter worship music produced today. Lyrically, it’s even more vulnerable than Need You Now. While it’s sometimes challenging to be theologically detailed and accurate in song (or, at least, easy to misinterpret), Plumb does a nice conveying our dependence on God and our call to glorify Him (not ourselves). Exhale does beautifully reflects His loving us in our worst state while having done all of the work to move us to a redeemed state: “Spirit come, tear down the walls/That only can/Reconcile this heart to yours” and in a chorus “Oh God, we breathe in Your grace and exhale/We do not exist for us/But to share your grace and love.”
These same themes of God’s loving us where we are, the church being called to be a safe place of God-enabled love for those who are not only broken but still breaking and the focus of our lives in not how great we can be for God but how great our God is and what He has already done through Jesus for us shine throughout the album They are clearly reflected in the track “Smoke:” “You are my hope/You are my song/You are the oxygen inside these weary lungs/You are my safe place/You are my home/You are my shelter when it all goes up in smoke.” Plumb conveys all of this with her haunting tone; not quite the stark, yet breathy quality of her earlier albums, but beautiful none the less.
Finally, the theme of our glorifying God is seen in “Great is Our God” “Come let us praise Him/Let us kneel at the throne of our God/Through His son our salvation was bought/With mercy and grace/Come let us bow down/In His hands are the depths of the earth/With one voice we proclaim His great worth/Lord our God”
This is a worthwhile album on many counts; it is encouraging to see someone apply the truths of God to their lives in the midst of challenges. Plumb clings to God in her trials and He enables her to traverse the dark valley. We are reminded, even in the midst of troubles or in recovery from those troubles, that our focus is not us but God. While she shares from her personal experience, this album is about God and His glory, not her heartache or even her triumph through the heartache.