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Posted October 12, 2009
By KevinDavis_NRT, Staff Reviewer

NEEDTOBREATHE’s third album is called The Outsiders—and listening to the anthemic title track that opens the 14-song collection, it’s clear that they embrace this label as both a badge of honor and a battle cry. The sons of an Assembly of God pastor, Bear and Bo Rinehart had inherited their father’s gift with words, and put it to good use in their songwriting; their mother taught piano, making music a constant part of their young lives. NEEDTOBREATHE was formed in 1999 by Bear and Bo with childhood friends Joe Stillwell and Seth Bolt from Possum Kingdom, South Carolina.

Perhaps you’ve heard past hit songs “Shine On”, “Signature of Divine (Yahweh)”, “More Time” and “Washed By The Water” by this amazing band. If you like what you’ve heard before then you have to go buy The Outsiders right away. This album will have you hooked right from the opening title track, which really sets the tone for this album. As Christians, we truly are ‘outsiders’ and we need to ‘stand our ground’ as this anthem urges. “Valley of Tomorrow” reflects on that ‘little voice’ of the Holy Spirit speaking to us, killing our selfishness that turns us away from God. Next is the Peter Gabriel-esque anthem “Through Smoke”, with another picture of the Holy Spirit as the answers and the Truth that finds us ‘through smoke’.

“Lay ‘Em Down” is the first single and is based on the hymn “All Who Are Thirsty”. The gospel feel of the song is similar to Dove award winning “Washed By The Water”. I get choked up when I pray along to the words of the song “Come down to the river, Come and let yourself in, Make good on a promise, To never hurt again, If you're lost and lonely, You're Broken down, Bring all of your troubles come lay 'em down”. The alt-rock edge of “Hurricane” frames an incredible song about the sin that comes from our pride. Here’s the chorus: “We roll the dice we play like fools, We plead with time to change the rules, Its like a hurricane is coming our way, We've all been warned but we still chose to stay”.

Bear’s vocals are emotive yet honest, making the words he’s singing all the more powerful and moving. “Stones Under Rushing Water”, featuring Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek is achingly beautiful, both musically and perhaps even more so lyrically. The song is about the desire to maintain the joy over the years in a married relationship of slow dancing, laughing and smiling and not let those things fade away. Then there’s the blues-inflected rocker “Prisoner”, the back-porch ease of “Won’t Turn Back” and the philosophically minded ballad “These Hard Times”, reflecting the album’s wide range of sounds.

The last 4 songs really show the musical and lyrical excellence and diversity of NEEDTOBREATHE. “Girl Named Tennessee” is a great fun song about an encounter with an unnamed girl from Tennessee. “Something Beautiful” is my favorite song on the album with these very moving lyrics: “Hey now, this is my desire, Consume me like a fire, 'cause I just want something beautiful, To touch me, I know that I'm in reach, 'Cause I am down on my knees, I'm waiting for something beautiful”. “Garden” is a gorgeous orchestral ballad sung in the person of Jesus in Gethsemane. I am extremely moved by the song and the bridge of “Father let My heart be for You, For You, For You, For You” has me in tears. As if the album wasn’t amazing enough, it ends with another anthem “Let Us Love”, calling us to action to “love like we were children and live like we’re still living”. I can’t think of a better way to cap off an incredible album.

I didn’t think NEEDTOBREATHE could top The Heat, but each album has gotten better and The Outsiders is the most catchy and meaningful album I’ve heard this year. This is truly a 5 star album and ranks #1 for me for 2009 and is in my top 10 albums of the decade. Every song is absolutely amazing.

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