Sometimes for something to to come to life you have to let it die… and dying isn’t always easy.
For NEEDTOBREATHE (NTB) everything seemed to be going right… they were getting what everyone in the music world would gauge as success.
They were being asked to perform high profile gigs with the likes of Taylor Swift, they were on TV, they were on radio…
But what they also discovered is that with that comes the pressures of it all… and the band almost collapsed because of it… success almost killed NTB (as shown in the documentary style film ‘Prove the Poets Wrong’).
The result was the band redefining ‘success’… they realized they were already successful – as individuals, they didn’t need to prove that to anyone else… so they gave that dream of success driven glory away.
They already had a purpose they just needed to re-find it!
The problem with giving away a dream… is that often it comes true at that point…
Everyone wants a miracle, but no one wants to be in a situation where they would need one.
Rivers in the Wasteland is the result of that miracle.
You can tell from the first strum that a burden has been lifted…
The album starts of with the track ‘Wasteland’ and NTB are almost defiant in the fact that “If God is on my side, who can be against me”… a slow song to build into a big chorus making way for the second track.
‘State I’m in’ starts off with slightly distorted southern tinged Beach Boy like vocals before rocking into the song in what can only be described as the best Chris Isaak impersonation, a kind of southern rock meets Elvis sound.
Beating drums and hand claps keep your foot tapping… in the blues infused southern rocker ‘Feet, don’t fail me now’… it’s infectious, it’s like a southern virus has entered your body and the side effects are a constant foot tapping. It’s a southern blues church experience. NTB have built you up to this point… they aren’t about to take the foot of the throat just yet and ‘Oh Carolina’ is the perfect remedy to keep the declaration of intention going, there is a stomp revival happening here.
This is becoming something of a southern release of tension… the best way to come out of tough times… is to let it go and celebrate.
NTB at this point ironically ‘need to breathe’ and the album pulls back with great tracks like ‘The Difference Maker’ and ‘Rise again’. The highlight of this reprieve from the stomp revival is that it shines a beam of light on the fact that these are great songs, well crafted, great lyrics. These are great songs without big production and studio tricks… these are songs that stand on merit alone.
There is a reason ‘The Heart’ was a lead single… it shines in the middle of this album like a beckon, it is in fact the literal heart of this album. It’s fun, it’s big, it’s personal and it’s a solid track. You really can’t argue with lyrics that say “Don’t waste time when it comes time to dance”
It was a nice touch adding the track ‘Brother’ as Bear and Bo Rinehart are the brothers responsible for the existence of NTB. It’s a touching tribute and although it may be referring to the obvious connection of these sibling lyrically it extends further than that.
Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
The great thing about this track is the bigness of it and it’s soul.
Half way through the song, a piano glides over the top of the track paving a way for a new focus of the groove, that makes it more soulful and heralding a soul choir to take the song to a whole other level and give it wings.
NEEDTOBREATHE have found their feet.
This is an album with soul… this is an album with heart… this is an album with history without burdening you with all the dirty details… this is an album of songs that have been crafted by experience, by pain, by laughter and by faith.
This is the most complete album that NTB have brought to the table.
There was a Reckoning (their last album) and from the ashes of that a phoenix has risen, that not only has lit a new fire and a renewed purpose for NTB but brought water into a wasteland.
NTB have had a weight lifted from their shoulders and it shows.
If you are looking for an album that encourages you to be lifted during the driest of places, then stop here for a drink.