By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent
Album Review: Hard Love by NEEDTOBREATHE (released July 15, 2016)
I first came across NEEDTOBREATHE after watching the video for the song “Happiness” from their newly released sixth album Hard Love. I could not put my finger on the genre, but the song was infectious. The song “Happiness” is almost like an old gospel song with a chanting chorus but then breaks into a very danceable, pop groove. Overall, the song is vocal-driven and is really stripped of instrumentation—but it works. The second video I perused was for the second single “Money & Fame”, which has brass accompaniment, gospel background vocals, a cool vibrato guitar lick, and may be classified as “alt-rock”. Both songs are kind of edgy, the lyrics are very pertinent to today—and will likely appeal to broad demographics.
So, I decided to check out the entire 12-song album Hard Love after listening to these two strong, intriguing singles. Also, I tried to listen objectively as NEEDTOBREATHE has typically been classified as a Christian Rock band, having won a Dove Award and a Grammy Nomination in 2015 for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song. It seems like the band is trying to cross-over to mainstream alt rock and appeal to a broader population with this album—and if I close my eyes and listen, I can picture most of the songs on Sirius XM’s Alt Nation.
Here are descriptions of the songs:
Mountain, Pt. 1—The song is about one minute in length and serves as an introduction to the album. The song sound like a bluesy-gospel “slave song chant” with full harmonies.
Hard Love—This alt-rock-pop song has a good beat, great lyrics that everyone can relate to, is definitely singable.
Money and Fame—See a description in the introduction of the article.
No Excuses—This ballad starts out with a slow tempo with vocals and minimal accompaniment and later moves into a chorus, a waltz tempo, and great gospel organ accompaniment.
When I Sing—This piano-driven pop song has a danceable beat with a lot of “do do do’s” choral accompaniment.
Happiness—See a description in the introduction of the article.
Great Night (featuring Shovels & Rope)—This country-rock or rockabilly song has a retro feel (“fever burning inside…fever getting me high…”) and a “country stomp” beat and is a lot of fun.
Be Here Long—This piano-driven song can simply be described as “uplifting”.
Don’t Bring That Trouble—This country-rock song has a hard-driving beat that is definitely rocking with lead guitar solos and blues organ accompaniment!
Let’s Stay Home Tonight—This song is a sweet, romantic ballad—one of those songs you’d like to slow-dance to.
Testify—This alt-rock song sounds like something you would hear on the radio until you listen to the lyrics, which sound Christian flavored.
Clear—Again, the lyrics are poetic but one wonders if the song is about God or a loved-one.
Overall, NEEDTOBREATHE’s album is a nice mesh of gospel-tinged, alt-rock or country-rock songs that are uplifting, “poppy”, and even danceable. Listening to the CD in the car on the way to work puts you in a great mood for the day. I just think the waters are kind of muddy with NEEDTOBREATHE as to whether they are a mainstream rock band or a Christian rock band (based on the songs “Testify” and “Clear”). Nevertheless, the album “Hard Love” deserves a listen so you can decide.
NEEDTOBREATHE is: Bear Rinehart (vocals, guitar), Bo Rinehart (guitar, vocals), Seth Bolt (bass, vocals) and Josh Lovelace (keys, vocals).