The Heat by Needtobreathe
Reviewed by Susan Lloyd
"NEEDTOBREATHE's debut disc, Daylight, made me sit up and take notice, but The Heat made me a fan for life."
To say that NeedtoBreathe’s latest effort, The Heat, is one of my favorite CD’s of the summer would really be an understatement. It’s one of my favorite CD’s of the year. This four man band hailing from my home state of South Carolina has grown by leaps and bounds over their last CD. Their debut disc, Daylight, made me sit up and take notice, but The Heat made me a fan for life. Musically and lyrically, the band has produced a solid effort that hopefully will earn some much deserved critical acclaim
Brothers Bear and Bo Rinehart have done a great job with song writing, and as always, bands who write their own material seem to earn my respect immediately. I love the southern rock undertones of stand out songs like “Run Away” and with lyrics like:
It’s easy to find potential in the before, but we look the same in the afters…
listeners are challenged to think about what they’re hearing. “Run Away” actually happens to be my favorite track in the collection and features an impressive acappella breakdown in the middle of the song that builds nicely into the final repetition of the chorus. There are layers and layers of sound on this particular song, and the first time I heard it, I hit repeat before the song was even over.
The songs are well crafted musically, and a variety of instruments are brought in to create sounds that are reflective of the musical tapestry the Rinehart brothers were exposed to growing up. Subtle southern rock with a tinge of the blues (The Heat), bold gospel inspired soul (Washed by the Water), big brass similar to the sounds of the 70’s band Chicago (Movin’ On) and lilting acoustic (More Time, Second Chances) are all painted beautifully over a canvas of impressive lyrics. I can’t say enough about the distinct southern crawl (that’s not a typo… listen to the man sing and you’ll know what I’m talking about) of Bear Rinehart’s voice. Honestly, his voice is so well textured and so flexible that it is arguably the most impressive instrument on the album.
I was most moved by the song “Return”. The lyric reminds me of the story of the prodigal son, and the plea “return to me” is repeated in the closing bars of the song over a very sparse instrumentation. Gorgeous. Equally moving is “Streets of Gold”, a surprisingly upbeat song about losing someone to a protracted illness. The line,
All of the time it takes to figure it out could be the moments you can’t live without is one that anyone who has loved someone with a terminal illness can fully appreciate. The whole song is underpinned with a strong bass line and has a very nice percussive break in the first verse.
Another topic tackled is the typical commitment phobic behavior of the modern male. “Looks like Love” will earn the favor of all women who
hear it because of this one line;
Our hearts can only shake when there’s risk that they could break. Yeah it’s a chance that I will take
I can hear the sighing now. The song is a refreshing reminder that some men “get it” where relationships are concerned, don’t go the way of the world, and can commit to what is right in relationships.
Nestled in the center of the album on track eight is the stunning “Signature of the Divine”. There is no question that this is a praise song. It reminds me of something that the Newsboys might do, and placing it in the center of the CD I believe is no accident. It has potential to be used in many churches due to the overt praise centered lyrics, easy chord progression and readily learned melody line. I definitely plan to find a way to incorporate it into our church’s contemporary service!
There are so many other songs that standout on this album and each track is unique. I had trouble writing this review, not because there wasn’t enough say but because there is too much to say! The CD is incredibly rich and deserves a Dove award nomination this year. I’ll even go so far as to say that I believe it deserves a Grammy nod. I have the pleasure of attending a NeedtoBreathe concert in the very near future and I am really looking forward to hearing these songs performed live. And yes, it’s true that part of the reason I was initially drawn to this band IS because they are from tiny Possum Kingdom, South Carolina, but their musical prowess and attention to lyrics are the reasons I’ll stick around to hear what they do next.