GENRE: FOLK ROCK
LABEL: ATLANTIC RECORDS
RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 20, 2011
RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5
Needtobreathe have had a meteoric rise to fame. From a little known part of South Carolina, to most of the major stages in North America whilst opening for the Taylor Swift – the quartet have risen to the top. A small number of bands make it, but precious few remain there. Yet ever since their debut “Daylight”, the masses’ appetite for their delicious brand of “Southern-ness” has only grown. But Needtobreathe have never disappointed, and with “The Reckoning” it seems that our love affair with their Southern rock-folk delights is set to continue.
The Reckoning has titbits and samples from a whole spectrum of sound. The opener “Oohs and Ahhs” punches harder than any other Needtobreathe track has ever dared to. It starts with all the mellowness one should expect from a folk group before crescendoing into an edgy, riff-laden rock tune. However, the first single “Slumber” (a pop-flavoured bluegrass hit ) is more recognisable when compared to past singles. The other pre-release single “Drive All Night” perfectly fits the bill for a Bruce Springsteen sound-alike with its theme of freedom and escape. Banjos, bagpipes, drums, tambourines all feature in the genre-bending album. In “The Reckoning” you can expect to hear everything from country to alternative rock.
Bear Rinehart’s voice can do crazy things. His intimate growl is simply captivating (“Ooh and Ahhs”), but equally charming are the soaring vocals in the closing “Learn To Love”. He also experiments with an impressive falsetto. The harmonies offered by brother, Bo, and Seth Bolt are pitch perfect throughout. In fact, the vocals in the band’s fourth studio album are nigh flawless.
Lyrically, The Reckoning reads like a series of intimate thoughts put to poetry. More than the music, powerful lines hold the album together. “Able” plays like an old Negro spiritual and has the wonderful refrain “Though I feel I’m strong enough to carry all this load/I’m not able on my own”. The title track is a stellar example of exemplary song writing – “Never run away a boy/When you can walk away a man”. Whilst Needtobreathe are never really explicit about their faith, there is a running theme of redemption and grace that permeates the album.
Needtobreathe continue to work wonders. From the arena-worthy anthems to their tunes of a more personal nature; they succeed at every level. They already had have composed an impressive catalogue of albums with the awards to prove it. But with The Reckoning I believe they’ve pulled out all the stops – with magnificent results. It is hard not to be impressed, even when really; you weren’t expecting not to be.
Review title provided courtesy of Atlantic Records