‘Hard Love’ is Needtobreathe’s sixth studio album and one I have been anticipating for quite awhile. Needtobreathe is one of my favorite bands and their last album wasn’t one of my favorite albums they have done. It had a darker tone and overall message and didn’t leave with me the great feeling I usually have with a Needtobreathe album.
When I heard about the new album, I was hoping they would lighten up a little and to my surprise they did more than that. They actually did deliver a much lighter, happier sounding album, but so much so that it feels more like a pop album. A POP ALBUM??? Needtobreathe is a southern rock, country, folk and straight up rock band. They are a Christian based band. They are not a POP Band. Maybe working with Gavin DeGraw on the song “Brother” influenced them greatly.
If you listen to their songs on this album, there is a drum machine. Not real drums, but a freakin’ drum machine. And dance grooves on some of the songs. WTF??? My mind is spinning, what is going on. The world has gone crazy!.
Nope, it hasn’t. The lyrics and overall tone is still the classic Needtobreathe sound. They seem to be in a better place than the last album and they are expressing that in their music. After a dozen listens, the album is exceptional and one of my favorite Needtobreathe albums and that is saying a lot as their albums are amazing.
The album opens with a “Mountains, Pt 1” (there is now Pt 2, btw). The piece is just a well crafted intro that really sounds nothing like the rest of the album, so not sure the purpose. But it is an “intro” so it doesn’t count in my grading system.
The first full length track, “Hard Love”, is clear indication of what the tone is going to be. The drum beat and the synthesizer sound immediately bring them into the Pop Rock world and a more radio friendly sound. “Money & Fame” continues that sound and even takes it to another level.
The only miss on the album is “No Excuses”. It drops back to the classic Needtobreathe sound using a more acoustical sound, however, the song feels flat and for me isn’t memorable at all. This would be the only song on the album I would delete from my library.
The pop beats come right back with “When I Sing”, “Happiness” and with “Great Night” (one of my favorites on the album). These 3 songs are some of the happiest, most upbeat songs this band has ever done. “Happiness” has a special sound adding in church choir vocals that just pull you in and make you raise your arms in praise and sing along.
“Great Night” features the band Shovel & Ropes. The song has the catchiest chorus and a great beat added to it. It is probably the first dance song they have ever done. It does make you want to get up and dance along and move to the groove. The song has a “Fever” that is so contagious.
There are a couple songs that do harken back to what I was expecting from Needtobreathe. The songs “Be Here Long” and “Let’s Stay Home Tonight” are much slower and amazing love songs. Very thoughtful and touching songs. One christian site (I don’t remember which one) stated that “Let’s Stay Home Tonight” was risque. I am sorry, but it is so not. It talks about staying home with your wife (or significant other) and romancing her (or him). Sometimes that requires no clothes. So what!!
“Don’t Bring That Trouble” brings back a little of the southern rock and country song and then throws in the pop beats and is another great song. It is fast paced and full on greatness.
“Testify” is the song that shows their Christian roots. The piano and Bear’s vocals are wonderful. The title tells you what the song is about. Speaking the truth and testify how you feel. The final song “Clear” is another slower song and just beautiful. It might be the best love song they have ever written. All I could think about listening to the song was my wife. The song spoke to me and says exactly how I feel about her.
- “Mountains, Pt 1” (intro)
- “Hard Love” – Keeper
- “Money & Fame” – Keeper
- “No Excuses” – Delete
- “When I Sing” – Keeper
- “Happiness” – Keeper
- “Great Night (feat. Shovels & Rope)” – Keeper
- “Be Here Long” – Keeper
- “Don’t Bring That Trouble” – Keeper
- “Let’s Stay Home Tonight” – Keeper
- “Testify” – Keeper
- “Clear” – Keeper
10 keepers out 11 songs – 91% (4.5 out 5 stars). Needtobreathe has done it again. Another outstanding album. Definitely a more uplifting album and more of a Pop album, but so worth a listen. The album has been on constant rotation with me since its release a little over a week ago. I don’t see myself getting tired of it any time soon. Don’t hesitate and go pick up a copy or download it. You won’t be disappointed.
- Bear Rinehart – Lead Vocals
- Bo Rinehart – Guitar
- Seth Bolt – Bass
- Josh Lovelace – Keyboards