Needtobreathe does what they do best in a year that we need it | Out of Body Album Review
I first heard Needtobreathe the summer of 2006. I was going into my senior year of high school, and I had a TV in my room. I used to diligently tune into the Ten Most Wanted music video countdown, which was every Saturday night on Channel 2 at midnight. One music video on the countdown that summer was the debut single from Needtobreathe, “You Are Here.” I was immediately taken by its hopeful and genuine tone and the sweeping swells of guitar contrasted with Bear Rinehart’s trademark twangy voice.
Today, fourteen years later, their seventh studio release, Out of Body, proves that there truly is something to the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Now, Needtobreathe has leaned further into their Americana influences over the years, but Out of Body is a collection of poignant and hopeful anthems drawing from the best of all the worlds of their catalog.
“Mercy’s Shore” is a classic Needtobreathe album opener through and through. The chorus goes,
I see the light but never find the surface / I don’t know if I can swim no more / White knuckles and wild horses / One day we’ll wash up on mercy’s shore / One day we’ll wash up on mercy’s shore
If you dig into the balance of that song, you’ll find that it might encourage you the way it did me. It acknowledges pain and disillusionment while embracing a mood of overall encouragement. It makes me think of the ending scene in C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle – “Further up and further in!”
“Hang On,” is a hopeful song for those golden hour drives that will undoubtedly threaten hearing damage to all that are in my car at the time. Again, this isn’t anything new for the band. But they just do this so well. I swear I’ve heard this song before, but I’m glad I’m hearing this for the first time all the same, if that makes sense.
Another highlight is the title track “Out of Body,” which leans ever-so-slightly into shoegaze territory with a brooding, driving beat. The mood suits the topic matter of the song. Out of body experiences are something that people often associate with the paranormal or new age ways of thinking, but here Needtobreathe applies this term to a different separation of self; breaking free from vanity. Ethereal references aplenty in the lyrics drive thoughtful responses in the listener.
In the peppy “Riding High” this portion of the first stanza stood out to me:
I know you’re dealing with your own temptation / Baby I’ve been dealing with mine / But we’ve been working for a long vacation / Baby, we can go tonight / We might die trying babe, we’re gonna go out riding high
I feel weird being this vulnerable on a music blog, but whatever, going to do it anyway. I’ve struggled for years with self-acceptance of my mistakes and flaws and thinking they define my future, particularly when it comes to relationships. This song reminds me in a lighthearted way that whoever comes alongside me in the future, we can take comfort in being flawed in our own ways and that we’ll go out “riding high” as long as we persevere. The ending of the song gets a little psychedelic, which I dig.
These are just four examples of songs on Out of Body that will move you in some way. As I mentioned before, there’s a sense of familiarity that permeates the album, which is good and bad. Generally, I dig this—and I will be surprised if fans of the band don’t latch on. This time period we’re in doesn’t necessarily need innovation in art—it just needs art, period.
Kudos to Needtobreathe for churning out some more enjoyable art.