Breath of fresh air

By Jenna Lillie

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The Reckoning Album (Sourced bighassle.com)

NEEDTOBREATHE, an American rock band formed in 2000, has skyrocketed their way from small town Seneca, South Carolina into the hearts of thousands of fans. Their ability to transcend genres and reinvent themselves with every album has made them the buffet of bands. They are the wild card which never ceases to surprise. Their latest album The Reckoning is a catchy piece of work that whets your appetite for your daily Needtobreathe.

The band consists of childhood friend and brother duo Bear Rinehart (lead vocals, guitar and piano), Bo Rinehart (backing vocals, guitar) and Seth Bolt (backing vocals, bass). Original member Joe Stillwell (drummer) recently announced his departure after thirteen years. In 2005 the band signed with prestigious label, Atlantic Records, giving Needtobreathe the exposure and resources that have garnered them their success in the states.

The Reckoning, their fourth studio released album, was written and produced by Bear and Bo Rinehart. Released in September 2011, the album immediately hit no. 6 on the Billboard Top 100 list landing them the opening act of Taylor Swift’s Speak Now tour. With one foot in the Christian scene and the other in the secular, the band has managed to do what many religious acts have yet to master: gain a secular audience.

Their first album ‘Daylight’ (2006) debuted Needtobreathe as an alternative rock group while their third album ‘The Outsiders’ (2009) showcased their southern flavour. The Reckoning captures the best of both genres making it unpredictable to know what the next track will bring.

If a Southern country/folk singer and an alternative rock musician had a  love child who grew up and decided to be a Christian, that child would sound something like Needtobreathe’s The Reckoning. The 14 tracks read as a journey of grace and redemption, alternating between edgy rock anthems to uplifting soulful ballads.

When you listen to this album you may get the feeling that you recognise a song but can’t quite place it. In almost every track you will be sure to think that Kings of Leon have somehow invaded the album. It seems that Bear Rinehart and Caleb Followill, the lead singer of Kings of Leon, share the same husky voice that brings music to life.

The opening track ‘Ohhs and Ahhs’ introduce Bear’s brooding voice, a sound that makes the ladies (and some men) weak in the knees. The instrumentals in this track punctuate every word making the lyrics more powerful. The electric guitar riff, heavy drums followed by the gentle piano manages to complement eachother without drowning out the poetic beauty of the words.

Their rooting in the Christian faith naturally adds a spiritual dimension to the meanings of the lyrics. Tracks like ‘Able’, ‘Learn to Love’ and ‘Angel at my door’ and the slow drawl of the banjo in ‘Devils been talking’ display their penchant for a country twang reminiscent of Kings of Leon. These serve as a great excuse to leave reality behind and get lost in your own world.

Staying true to their wholesome, banjo clap-along beats from ‘The Outsiders’ tracks like ‘White Fences’, ‘Drive all Night’ and ‘Wanted Man’ provides the perfect tunes for long road trips. By the time you have reached your destination you are sure to know every word.

Standout tracks like ‘Ohhs and Ahhs’, ‘Slumber’ and their title track ‘The Reckoning’ display their love for versatility. The most significant merging of Christian and mainstream can be found in the pastoral ballad ‘A place only you can go’ whose poetic lyrics remain embedded in your head.

The Reckoning is a strong, well rounded album filled with infectious anthems and catchy tunes. Their southern charm and folk rock is truly worth a listen because it is bound to leave you wanting more.


Keep your eys’s open (The Official Video)

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