Album Review :
Needtobreathe - The Outsiders

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Band: Needtobreathe

Title: The Outsiders

Label: Atlantic Records

Release Date: August 24, 2009

Reviewer: Joshua Clark

Track Listing:

  1. The Outsiders
  2. Valley of Tomorrow
  3. Through Smoke
  4. Lay ‘Em Down
  5. What You’ve Done to Me
  6. Hurricane
  7. These Hard Times
  8. Stones Under Rushing Water
  9. Prisoner
  10. Won’t Turn Back
  11. Girl Named Tennessee
  12. Something Beautiful
  13. Garden
  14. Let Us Love

Needtobreathe’s The Outsiders came out in the summer of 2009.Now,it’s nearly a year and half later since release date and this album is still way too good to pass up on. This was easily one of my favorite albums of 2009 and is a group of well-constructed songs from beginning to end. Having fell in love with their 2007 release The Heat, The Outsiders continue to expand upon the things I fell in love with from this band.

Needtobreathe’s sound can best be described as elements of southern rock combined with driving pop/rock. Southern rock when done correctly is hard to pass up and is one enjoyable experience. Third Day and Decemberadio, being two bands I add into my music rotation quite often because of this very fact. Needtobreathe has been my most recent addition of what I consider as southern rock done right.

The Outsider’s lyrics seem a lot more ambiguous than some of Needtobreathe’s past work but when tearing apart the songs you can tell where the guy’s hearts lie. The band has enough subtle leanings towards their faith throughout the album. If nothing else, you can at least tell that the band is searching for more than just the things of the world. Upon further listens you can see just how deep the lyrics are in this album. With much exploration of the simple joys and pains in life, while wrestling with faith or doubting, there is something here for everyone.  I think each song has some deep meaning and it is well worth the time exploring the well-crafted songwriting.

Fortunate for listeners the band’s musical skill is pretty much equally matched with the lyrics displayed in this album. There is a great combination and use of instruments in this album. Throwing in tasty banjo bits combined with nice guitar riffs. All the while piano melodies slide overtop and the drums rolling in the background.  In each song the band creates some great musical pieces that drag the listener in for one rewarding journey. And if that isn’t enough, you have Bear Rinehart’s distinctive vocals laying over the music beautifully. There are numerous great grooves that you are swept into and well-crafted choruses that you can’t help but sing-along to.

I could go on and on about how great a lot of these songs are, so I will just touch on some of my favorites throughout the album. “Through Smoke” has some great piano melodies, pounding drums, acoustic riffs, with the harmonica bits overlaying, the background vocals are used to the fullest, and it is simply one magical track. “Lay ‘Em Down” has a great stomp-clap beat to start off the song and is another highlight with its great message of bringing your troubles/pain and laying it all down. “Hurricane” picks up the pace a bit and the chorus will drag you in with one big hook. “These Hard Times” is another catchy sing-along and is a desperate cry to find a way out of the hard times in your life. If you haven’t heard the hit track “Something Beautiful” you’re missing out. This song provides some of my favorite lyrics on the album and is a truly beautiful track. But even though there are some tracks I enjoyed more than others, I was dragged in from the banjo starting off “The Outsiders” to the pounding anthem of “ Let Us Love” that finishes the album off.

This is a near-perfect album and has just a few minor flaws that are almost not worth mentioning. The main one maybe being that the album has so many good tracks that there isn’t really one that stands out on its own to be a huge hit for the band. Which I think just one big hit is all that people need to grab a hold of and then this band is just going to explode.

Overall: this one of the best albums released in 2009 that is allowing them to spread their wings out into Christian and Mainstream circles. This album is a true gem and takes the listener on one incredible journey of life. The band shares the joys and the pains of life while hanging on to faith and searching for something more. No matter what type of music you enjoy this is an album you need to make sure you add to your collection, you won’t regret. This is coming from a metal head and heavy rock listener who enjoyed this, so it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot. This is well made album that shows the love and passion that Needtobreathe has for the music they craft and the people they share it with. Needtobreathe has given us three incredible albums that keep getting better and improving on each other. With this steady progress upward the band is now ready to burst out and share their message to the masses.