Atlantic Recordings southern rock band NEEDTOBREATHE has become quite well known for their breathtaking live show over the past few years. With 2009's release of their third national studio album, The Outsiders, NEEDTOBREATHE has cemented themselves as a live show favorite and an act to follow.
Coming off of their Won't Turn Back nationwide tour, NEEDTOBREATHE releases their first ever live recording, a digital EP entitled Live Horses. The online exclusive project offers four live renditions of tracks from The Outsiders, captured at different dates on the tour, and tacks on one live in-studio recording of a track from the album.
Appropriately, Live Horses opens with "The Outsiders (Live from Tulsa, OK - 10/15/09)," setting the vibe for EP with their jam-style live rendition. The recordings on the EP are rich and include the crowd noise just enough to support that raw live feel without intruding. One of the standout songs from the The Outsiders, "Prisoner," is next (Live from Charleston, SC - 04/17/10). While the unmistakably catchy marriage of bass and keys that create the infectious backbone of the song translates well live, this rendition includes a dramatic pause before the first chorus that is fun to experience in person, but doesn't quite work as well when the recording of it is meant for repeat listens. It doesn't quite ruin the song, but it does hinder the recording a bit.
The emotional "Stones Under Rushing Water (Live from Houston, TX - 10/17/09)" is a nice treat as it includes a live duet with tourmate Serena Ryder who sounds great alongside NEEDTOBREATHE front man Bear Rinehart. It's one of the tracks that actually may sound better in its live recorded form.
To round out the live show material is "Let Us Love," captured live in Des Moines, IA (05/15/10), and clocks in at over 10 minutes in length. While there is indeed a jam session at the end of the track from when they'd use the song to close their set, it also includes a moment where Bear tells the city that the band had previously received weak crowd turnouts in the area but now experience incredible responses from their audiences there. It's probably great to have the chatter recorded for anyone who attended this specific date in May, but it does get a little old on repeat listens. It also feels a little bit like a tease to only have four live recordings on Live Horses, but that also makes the EP feel more like the bonus treat that it is.
To close, a live in-studio recording of "Valley of Tomorrow" (Recorded Live At Plantation Studios - Charleston, SC - 09/20/10) is featured. It's more or less a more acoustic and raw new recording of the original and it makes a fine additional track -- although it may have been better to have a fifth live show track ("Girl Named Tennessee" or "Through Smoke," for example) or an acoustic take on a more drastically different song. Still, it's difficult to nitpick a live companion EP like this one. Fans of the band won't want to miss this one, while those who haven't seen NEEDTOBREATHE perform in person yet may want to remedy that first before grabbing this as a souvenir. It's a live show that doesn't disappoint.- Review date: 10/26/10, written by John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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