A Well-Rounded Addition
Posted August 10, 2017
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer
NEEDTOBREATHE's 2016 album HARD LOVE further cemented their status as one of the most fast-rising, widely-appealing groups in both the Christian and mainstream markets. Their traditional folk-influenced alt rock sound has become tempered by some pop/country vibes, an evolution that they've handled with a steady creative hand that keeps fans assured at every step that this is a band they can trust for consistent quality. HARD LOVE was a piece of such excellence that it left listeners wanting more, and with the HARD CUTS EP that's exactly what we get: stand-out songs originally created for HARD LOVE that didn't quite make the original album.
Hit song "HARD LOVE" has two updated incarnations bookending the b-sides on this project. Many listeners have already heard the version featuring Andra Day, which has gone to radio and was the chosen variation for the music video. "HARD LOVE (feat. Serena Ryder)" sets out in a different direction, stripping the song back to an acoustic format that gives it a distinct back porch vibe. The gospel-flavored vocals from Serena Ryder make this track feel like something of a deep south spiritual.
The b-sides stay in much the same musical vein as the tracks on HARD LOVE. "Waiting" features a pop-styled melody that serves as a fun juxtaposition to some raw drum tones. "Count On Me" could thematically be a sequel to NEEDTOBREATHE's hit "Brother" with its themes of leaning on each other for support and the church-choir style backing vocals.
Some of the songs that have found a home here are more spiritually direct than the cuts that made the full album. "Cages" frames reflection on personal failure and a need for redemption in a stripped-back, piano-driven musical setting. The song concludes "Went looking for attention in all the wrong places / We were needin' a redemption / All we got was just cages." "Walking on Water" is a more upbeat offering centered on the concept of faith, treading almost worshipful territory and revisiting NEEDTOBREATHE's roots with lyrics like "though I falter, You got me walking on water."
The Bottom Line: Encompassing a surprising musical breadth and spiritual depth in the span of six tracks, HARD CUTS is the perfect addition for anyone who can't get enough of HARD LOVE.
Song to Download Now:
"Cages" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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