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, "...I'll have years to think of / The way I'd do the things I did / Just to chase the pain away / We're here now and I can change / But I'm still restless," and the grand sounds of "Looks Like Love" proclaims, "I won't run when it looks like love / I won't hide beneath the fear / Of how my past has come undone... / I can't spend another night alone / Regretting what I've done / So, I won't 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
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