Album of the Year Posted August 26, 2020 By KevinDavis_NRT, Staff Reviewer
What You Need to Know South Carolina's Grammy-nominated band NEEDTOBREATHE hooked me 14 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 managed to improve their craft with each album, garner an opening slot for Taylor Swift, play on late-night television, and collaborate with Gavin DeGraw on one of their biggest hits to date, "Brother," from my Top Album of 2014, Rivers in the Wasteland. That album earned a Grammy nomination for "Multiplied" and features the standout song “Difference Maker.”In their album H A R D L O V E—my Top Album of 2016—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." After a four-year wait, the band is returning with the full-length album Out of Body in August 2020.
What it Sounds Like This long-awaited new studio album has captivated my spirit. The album includes standout recordings like the sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs anthems “Hang On,” “Alive” and “Survival,” along with the reflective vibe of “Who Am I,” “Banks” and “Seasons.” I have long been hooked by their enthusiastic songs, layered with a southern rock musical vibe. I've felt the band has improved with each new album. I can’t get enough of the emotional vocals and the sincere, enthusiastic and thought-provoking lyrics throughout the album, which has echoes of Rivers in the Wasteland both in content and musical vibe as the band has undergone a transformation to a trio-Bear Rinehart [vocals, guitar], Seth Bolt [bass, vocals], and Josh Lovelace [keys, vocals].
Spiritual Highlights We're fearfully, wonderfully and perfectly made, which is expressed in the standout “Who Am I”: “Somehow You really love who I really am/I push You away/Still You won’t let go…Who am I to be loved by You? It's clear that the themes of relying on God's grace and mercy and seeking and speaking truth flows throughout this excellent album, highlighted by several of my new favorite songs, “Mercy’s Shore,” “Alive,” “Hang On,” and “Banks.” You'll be hooked right from the opening notes of "Mercy’s Shore," which really sets the tone for this album. As Christians, we can all relate to the vulnerable and sincere crying out: "One day we’ll wash up on mercy’s shore!”
Best Song on the Record “Who Am I” is a daily prayer, asking God to come and change our hearts and our lives. Only Jesus can give us our identity. What a powerful expression of what it means to accept that God never leaves or forsakes us. I'm really engaged by the emotional vocals and the deep, inspirational lyrics throughout the album. There are several standout songs I can’t wait to hear in concert including “Alive,” “Survival” and “Riding High.” If you've always enjoyed NEEDTOBREATHE’s soulful anthems, you're in for a treat with this album. It has a great balance of upbeat rockers and reflective songs. Many of these songs express my emo feelings, and yet remind me that I wasn't made for this world. These songs will have you singing along in one listen. “Banks” connects deeply with the lyrics, “I wanna be there when the darkness closes in/To make the truth a little clearer/I wanna hold you close but never hold you back/I'll be the banks for your river.”
Final Word NEEDTOBREATHE consistently makes songs that remind us to get to that place where we're in humble submission to God. Don't play it safe. Ask for God to be real in your life. You'll never see true beauty if you don't fully submit to God. This is one of my top albums of the year from both the Christian and mainstream music markets. They have long been my favorite band. I truly enjoy their entire catalog and especially their stand-out hit songs "Something Beautiful," "Happiness" and "Multiplied." If you like those songs, you'll love this new album. Out of Body is one of the catchiest, most energetic and emotionally engaging albums I've heard this year and is my album of the year.