Free Like a River! Posted April 17, 2021 By KevinDavis_NRT, Staff Reviewer
What You Need to Know NEEDTOBREATHE has very quickly become one of my all-time favorite bands. They know how to move me with such amazing and spiritual lyrics that truly reflect how I feel as a Christian.
Live From the Woods, Vol. 2 is an incredible live album recorded after a year of quarantine and not touring to support their recent album Out of Body. The new live project celebrates our freedom to sing together after we’ve been--and continue to be--socially distanced from one another.
To me, this new release is an ode to freedom and a celebration of the fellowship of community that brings people together. You'll want to sing along in unison with this outdoor crowd in the woods of Tennessee.
What it Sounds Like Listening to “Mercy’s Shore” to open the 15-track collection, 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, “Alive,” “Who Am I,” “Banks,” “Survival” and “Child Again.”
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!” Fans of the band’s trademark high energy live shows will flock to “Prisoner,” “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,” “Alive,” “Great Night” and “Riding High.”
This album reminded me of how much I really miss live music. If you feel the same, then don’t miss out on this amazing live recording. I also got choked up at first listen. At the piano intro of “Prisoner,” I realized how much I miss the community of fellowship, singing songs in-person with strangers.
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? The beautiful strings accentuate the biblically inspired message of “Garden,” which lead vocalist Bear Rinehart describes as one of the band’s most requested songs from their album, The Outsiders. The song features the gorgeous prayer, “Let the songs I sing bring joy to You/Let the words I say confess my love/Let the notes I choose be Your favorite tune/Father let my heart be after You.” It’s a moving song that celebrates the freedom we have in Christ based on His sacrifice for us.
Best Song “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 profoundly moved by the lyrics, “You grow Your roses on my barren soul/Who am I to be loved by You?”
There are several standout songs. I'm really engaged by the emotional vocals and the deep, inspirational lyrics on other songs, specifically “Alive,” Banks,” “Garden,” and “Bridges Burn/Forever On Your Side.”
I’ve had the privilege to see this band in concert a dozen times. This album is the next best thing to seeing them live. “Child Again,” is a beautiful standout song, musically and perhaps even more so lyrically, reflecting the band's wide range of sounds and emotional expressions. The lyrics to “Child Again” are prayerful and moving: “I know that gettin' hurt/Is really how redemption works/My ego is a ball and chain/My instincts only make it worse/In the mornin' light/I don't want to run from pain/You know I can't afford to cheapen grace/I know that pain just means my soul's awake.” The takeaway message of unity and freedom to the band and for all of us is found in the moving bridge, “You're my hope unbroken/You're my innocence/I am free like a river/I'm a child again.” It’s that range of songwriting that sets this album on the highest level for me, and is why they are my favorite band.
Final Word NEEDTOBREATHE consistently makes songs that remind us to get to that place where we're at 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.
Live From the Woods, Vol. 2 is one of my top live albums I’ve ever heard from both the Christian and mainstream music markets. NEEDTOBREATHE has long been my favorite band.
If you've always enjoyed the band's soulful anthems, you're in for a treat with this album. It has a great balance of upbeat rockers and reflective ballads. Many of these songs express my emo feelings. 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.”
No matter your situation, this band has songs that can really bring healing and reflect the cry of your heart. The very relatable and transparent words of these songs use poetic descriptions and biblical language throughout these stellar tracks, resulting in NEEDTOBREATHE’s celebration of the freedom of community gathering around live music. Sing along, “I am free like a river, I’m a child again.”