South Carolina rock group NEEDTOBREATHE made a few waves in 2006 with their debut release, Daylight.
The hook-filled, catchy collection of pop/rock anthems was one of the stronger records of the year, even if it bore a great deal of
familiarity along with it. Now the band is poised to release their follow-up, The Heat, a distinctly more rootsy, transparent,
and honest album that takes steps towards defining NEEDTOBREATHE as a lot more than just another rock act.
The acoustical opener "Spare The Time," which clocks in barely at half a minute sets up the record with a lighthearted invitation
to the listener to experience them live. And to confirm that this isn't another Daylight, the delicious, pounding drum beat
and soulful piano of album highlight "Restless" kick in to reintroduce this exciting young band to their listeners. Lyrically,
where the debut was almost soley inspired by relationships, The Heat delves into more spiritual matters as well as vulnerable introspective.
But the record really hits the high note with soaring worship on "Signature Of Divine (Yahweh)," a song that arguably packs more punch
lyrically and musically than a lot of songs coming from the worship genre today. "Washed By The Water" is another one of the album's
true gems, a piano-driven southern delight inspired by some church troubles the Rinehart brothers' preacher father experienced. It's when
the guys delve deeper on songs like these, as well as the title track, that The Heat really excels.
It's important to note that the album's a lot more subdued and melodic than their debut. Also, there's a generous fourteen
tracks included on the disc. And at first listen, it may appear
that there's a bit of filler here and there where some track pruning could have tightened up the song list. However, with repeat listens,
The Heat begins to really reveal its worth. Songs like "Return," "Again," "More Time," and even the heaven-minded "Streets Of
Gold" cover love and loss, much in the way that Daylight had established. But just as you think The Heat is a mellow
collection of relationship musings, NEEDTOBREATHE throws a clever curveball with the ridiculously catchy and upbeat "We Could Run Away." The Rinehart brothers also
seem to be writing out of a process of healing in the love department as well, where songs like "Restless" admit, "...Iíll have years to think of /
The way Iíd do the things I did / Just to chase the pain away / Weíre here now and I can change / But Iím still restless,"
and the grand sounds of "Looks Like Love" proclaims, "I won't run when it looks like love / I wonít hide beneath the fear /
Of how my past has come undone... / I canít spend another night alone / Regretting what Iíve done / So, I wonít run." Even at the
most melancholic moments of The Heat, there's hope.
From the worship elements displayed in the single "Signature Of Divine (Yahweh)," to the soulful title track, The Heat
offers a little bit of everything. Fans of the first record will especially enjoy tracks like the beat-driven "Restless" and the
sensitive "Return," while tracks like the southern-flavored piano ballad "Washed By The Water" or the restrained closer "Second Chances"
are new territory that will no doubt spread a smile across the listener's face. There's no sophomore slump for these guys.
Feel The Heat; NEEDTOBREATHE is on the rise.
- Reviewed 8/26/07, PReview date: 7/16/07, written by John DiBiase