As per usual, the new offering from NEEDTOBREATHE is firmly rooted in gospel sensibilities. The music on Out of Body is unmistakably spiritual by design. Yet, agnostic as I am, I can’t be mad about it. If anyone was ever going to convince me to re-enter a church, it would be this band. And this appeal outside of the evangelical church community is what has given this band the longevity they’ve so far enjoyed.
Also, Bear Rineheart has the kind of voice that reviewers like me can spend a lifetime searching for. So whether you believe in God or not, you want to listen to that man sing.
Lyrically, this record is predictably apologetic. At times, the Christian need to continually say sorry for being alive does become somewhat tiresome for the non-spiritual listener. But that same oversupply of modesty does make for compelling storytelling, and it marries well with the musical talent this band has.
I’m probably the staunchest critic of religion you’d find anywhere, but a track like “Survival” makes the idea of moving to Nashville and listening exclusively to blues-rock while praising the Lord attractive to even me.
“Banks” is another highlight. Good music is visceral. More than just hearing it, you can feel it. And the exploration of the human relationship on this track certainly achieves that. It lumbers steadily along, carried by acoustic guitar and sparse operatic drums, musically bringing to life the metaphorical flow of the river addressed in the lyrics.
What NEEDTOBREATHE once again achieve with this record is a connection to the eternal. The words and music come from deep within but reach all the way into the ether. If it can be criticised for a glut of Christian sensibility, it most certainly cannot be criticised for a lack of soul.
Whilst I’m not certain Out Of Body achieves the return to their early Americana rock sound that Bear claims it does, it’s certainly less electronically experimental than 2016’s Hard Love. Lovers of the band’s early work such as The Heat will find a lot more in this album to relate to.
It’s not an easy listen. It’s not the kind of record you put on for a few drinks with friends. But if you need to feel, if you’re in the mood for some existentialism and contemplation of spiritual themes, this record will do nicely.
You’ll hear Kings of Leon, Ryan Adams and Mumford and Sons here. It will challenge and comfort you all at once. And, if none of that is attractive to you, buy it for that voice alone. God knows I already have.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Out Of Body will be released on August 28th.