A Well-Rounded Addition| Posted August 10, 2017
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.)
Four New Songs That Were Hard to Leave Off of H A R D L O V E| Posted August 12, 2017
NEEDTOBREATHE has stated that one of the hardest parts about finishing their chart-topping 2016 album H A R D L O V E was determining which songs had to be cut to get down to the twelve songs for the album. This new EP contains six songs, two of them alternate versions of “Hard Love”, along with four songs that were cut from the original album.
The EP contains two new versions of “Hard Love”, one featuring Serena Ryder and one featuring Andra Day. Along with the version featuring Lauren Daigle from The Shack: Music From and Inspired By, this makes three versions of the song released since the album was released last year, which seems to be a bit of an overkill.
Below are brief comments on the other four songs: Waiting – This song was produced by Dave Tozer and NEEDTOBREATHE, and written by Bear and Bo Rinehart. It is a keyboard driven song with a strong drum beat, backing vocals and a good guitar solo. He is haunted by a woman, who keeps him waiting, shaking, trembling, and chasing mistakes that he made. It’s my least favorite of the new songs. Count on Me – This song was produced by Dave Tozer and NEEDTOBREATHE, and written by Tozer, Bear and Bo Rinehart. This song features a strong drum beat, keys and some backing vocals. Thematically it is similar to “Brother” from their excellent Rivers in the Wasteland album. It features encouraging lyrics. Everybody needs a pick me up You can count on me Walking on Water – The last two songs of the four new ones were my favorites, starting with “Walking on Water”. This song will appeal to the band’s Christian fan base. It starts slowly and then builds powerfully and joyfully on the chorus with a with a strong drum beat and backing vocals. There’s no turning back. Can't see nothing at all But Your outstretched arms
Help me believe it
Though I falter
You got me walking on water Cages – This song was produced by Ed Cash and NEEDTOBREATHE and written by Bear and Bo Rinehart. It’s another song that the band’s Christian fan base will resonate with. It starts as a piano-driven song, with light drums. He was looking for attention, was needing redemption but all he got was cages. It then builds powerfully with drums and guitar. They reference their 2009 album The Outsiders, stating that they’re a band of outsiders. I'm in a prison for a man gone wrong But I've found a future, this is not my home