Co-produced by NEEDTOBREATHE and recorded at their very own Plantation Studios in Charleston, SC, “H A R D L O V E” follows the band’s blockbuster album “Rivers In the Wasteland,” which made an impressive chart debut upon its 2014 release, topping Billboard’s Christian Albums chart. What’s more, the album’s stunning “Multiplied” earned NEEDTOBREATHE their first ever GRAMMY® Award nomination.
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Mountain, Pt. 1
Money & Fame
When I Sing
Great Night (f/ Shovels & Rope)
Be Here Long
Don't Bring That Trouble
Let's Stay Home Tonight
When I Sing (Mountain House version) [Cracker Barrel bonus track]
Album of the Year Material| Posted July 01, 2016
South Carolina's Grammy Nominated band NEEDTOBREATHE hooked me ten years ago with their major label debut Daylight, which featured the single "Shine On." My takeaway review comments were: "Great album. Even better group." Since then, the band has somehow managed to improve with each album, garner an opening slot for Taylor Swift, play on late night television and collaborate with Gavin DeGraw on their biggest hit to date, "Brother," from my Top Album of 2014Rivers in the Wasteland (which also earned a Grammy nomination for "Multiplied").
Something I take immense joy in discovering with each new NEEDTOBREATHE release is the incredible songwriting and musical excellence with nuggets of lyrical connection weaving their way throughout the tracks. From The Reckoning, I was struck how brothers Bear and Bo Rinehart continued the "outsider" theme with the clever use of the term "victim" and keeping our eyes open in a few songs.?
In this album, the band subtly includes the reference to the "dance" of life in a few contexts, taking us on the journey of life lessons learned in "HARD LOVE"-- including the lyric "Hold on tight, what don't kill you will make you stronger, get back up, cause it's a hard love."?
"Money & Fame" is in the style of "Maybe They're Onto Us" and "Where the Money Is," with the wisdom: "What do you kids want to know about now? I've made enough to make a young gun proud / Money and fame bring a man shame, ain't no doubt about it."
I've been married 22 years, and like "Stones Under Rushing Water," the band has again captured my heart's sentiments with the emotive relationship focused song "No Excuses," with Bear's emotive vocals taking us a on journey, and in "Be Here Long" with the lyrics "I gave you the best of me, loved you more than anything / but we don't get to be here long." "Let's Stay Home Tonight" contines the theme with the refrain, "Baby, let's stay home tonight / we can put a couple records on / we can build a fire alright / maybe we can dance 'til dawn."
"Happiness" and "When I Sing" have become personal anthems for me with life lessons for all of us in the vertical focus: "I've got dreams that keep me up in the dead of night / telling me I wasn't made for the simple life... / I'm asking You to show me some forgiveness, it's all for You in my pursuit of happiness" and "When I sing, You're the song that I'm singing / in my moment of weakness, when I sing, it's just my way to tell You I need You."?
Don't miss the worshipful "Testify" in the vein of "Lay 'Em Down" and "Multiplied," which sings, "Come to the fountain and you can be satisfied... / wave after wave, as deep calls to deep. / I will reveal my mystery, as soon as you start to let go."
The album closes with "Clear," a gorgeous track celebrating what is clear in the dance of life: "feels like Heaven is coming down... / once was so lost but now I'm found, when I'm with you. / No one's watching the way you move, bodies dancing under the moon / you always know what to do when I'm with you."
Closing Thoughts: HARD LOVE is one of the most meaningful albums I've ever heard. I can't get the catchy melodies of many of these songs out of my head, with the perfectly produced tracks and the song order brilliantly inviting listeners to join the band on their journey.?
I honestly didn't think my favorite band could take it up another notch, but after repeated listens, HARD LOVE is my Album of the Year. This project has something for fans of everything the band has ever done, and the pure and exceptional quality of the release should earn them new fans alongside likely Grammy and Dove Award nominations for the standout songs "HARD LOVE," "Money & Fame," No Excuses," "Happiness," "When I Sing," "Be Here Long" and "Testify."
The very relatable and transparent words of these songs perfectly depict our daily walks wrapped around catchy songs. All of the tracks really display the musical and lyrical excellence and intentionality of NEEDTOBREATHE. You'll enjoy the emotive vocals, musical excellence and harmonies layered over one catchy and meaningful song after another. The musical and lyrical excitement of the band's engaging live performance is perfectly captured in these recordings. This album is by far the most energetic and emotionally engaging album I've heard this year, maybe ever.
Song to Download Now:
"No Excuses" (Get it on iTunes here.)
NEEDTOBREATHE’s Story of Redemption| Posted October 30, 2016
~~NEEDTOBREATHE returns with their sixth studio album, following 2014’s excellent Rivers in the Wasteland, which was followed by their hit single “Brother” with Gavin DeGraw. Although the band was in a dark place when that album was recorded, lead singer Bear Rinehart has stated that the new album is mostly a story of redemption. Keyboardist Josh Lovelace has spoken about this album being more accessible lyrically and the band taking some chances sonically, using a lot of new sounds and synth throughout. The album was co-produced by the band and recorded in Charleston, South Carolina.
Below are a few comments about each song on the new album that debuted at #4 on Amazon’s digital albums chart:
Mountain, Pt 1 – the album starts with this less than one minute song, with a new sound for the band featuring electronically distorted lyrics. This short song then quickly transitions into the title track.
Hard Love – this driving song features a strong vocal from Bear. It opens with a great line “Trading punches with the heart of darkness”, but we find that his strength is in the love he has found. It features a memorable and encouraging chorus that will sound great in concert:
Hold on tight a little longer
What don't kill ya, makes ya stronger
Get back up, cuz it's a hard love
Money & Fame – this song features some great horns. Bear sings with regret, perhaps to young musicians about the negative effects of money and fame. A great line is “I found the bottom from the top somehow.” Perhaps in speaking of personal compromise, he sings that everybody's got a price, and it’s even lower than you think it is.
What do you kids wanna know about now?
I made enough to make a young gun proud
Money and fame bring a man to shame
No Excuses – this songs opens with acoustic guitar, and then builds with bass, keys, hand clap and backing vocals. It’s a sad song. He is singing to a girl he has known since high school. There are no excuses for what she is doing, tightening the rope around his neck.
When I Sing – this song immediately grabs you (and holds you) with a good beat, featuring drums, keys, horns, hand clap and backing vocals. This one will sound great in concert as the crowd sings along.
When I sing
You’re the song that I’m singing
In my moment of weakness
When I sing
It’s just my way to tell you I need you
Happiness – this song opens with hand clap, backing vocals and keys. There is a light he sees, but it's far in the distance. He is asking for forgiveness, which he states is “all for you in my pursuit of happiness”. He encourages the listener by singing that the song ain't nothing if it can't set you free. He sings:
These days are tough, these days are long
Sometimes it's hard, you carry on
But I hear a voice singing and I know it's true
Great Night – this song features Shovels and Rope, a duo from the band’s hometown of Charleston, composed of husband Michael Trent and wife Cary Ann Hearst. It features a driving beat from the beginning, driven by strong drums. This song is fun musically, and sound great in concert, but is weak lyrically (about having a great night on the dance floor).
Be Here Long – this is a serious song that deals with grief and love lost. It’s a good reminder that our time on earth is short, as we don’t get to be here long. It features keys, light drums and effective backing vocals.
I gave you the best of me
Loved you more than anything
But we don’t get to be here long
Don’t Bring That Trouble – this song features a screeching guitar, keys and a driving beat. He has been through that fire. He wants us to hold on but not to hold him back. He’s going home and everyone is invited but don’t bring that trouble with you. Features some Creedence-like guitar.
Let’s Stay Home Tonight – this is a personal and romantic song that is simple musically, featuring some good keys and acoustic guitar. It’s a song to his wife about slowing down. He suggests that they just stay home, put some records on, put a fire on and dance till dawn. They don’t even need clothes on. It’s my least favorite song on the album.
Testify – this is a wonderful worship song which will find play on Christian radio and be sung in worship services. Come to the fountain and you can be satisfied. Let me hear you testify.
Clear – the closing ballad sounds like it could be a song to a woman or God, but I believe it’s the former as he refers to “Honey”. It features acoustic guitar and keys. It tends to drag on too long and is not one of my favorite songs on the album.
This is another strong album from the band. It features some great songs and a few I didn’t like too much. The pacing could have perhaps been better as my two least favorite songs come near the end.