Needtobreathe – ‘Acoustic Live, Vol. 1’ – Album Review

There are only a few bands in your lifetime that come along and touch you in ways that nothing else can.  I have been fortunate enough to have that happen on a few occasions.  Needtobreathe is one of those bands for me.  Their music speaks to me and makes me feel things that have made them a part of my life.  I have only seen them live 3 times now and each time they get better.  I have all their studio albums on vinyl and now their 2 live albums.  The latest to the collection is the release ‘Acoustic Live, Vol. 1’.  And that is what we are going to talk about here today.

Back in 2017, Needtobreathe went on their first ever acoustic tour.  They played smaller venues and stripped it down bare to make the shows as intimate as they possibly could.  Sadly, I had to miss the show due to my work schedule and let me tell you how much that sucked.  I hate that work gets in the way of life.

Back to the album…the cover art was drawn by none other than Bo Rhinehart, lead guitarist.  He is one talented MF.  He also designed the videos shown during their most recent tour that my wife and I caught this past Summer (read about HERE).  The rest of the artwork is really strong giving the album this vintage, retro look of say the early 1900’s.  It is really cool.

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The back cover continues the theme and gives you the track listing as well.

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And speaking of track listing, it is a really decent setlist, although maybe not my dream setlist. I won’t go through track by track, but will hit what I thought were some of the highlights for me.  The first being the song “No Excuses” from their album ‘Hard Love’. Towards the end of the song, they went into the song “House of the Rising Sun”  which blended flawlessly into the song.

Bo & Bear Rhinehart (yes they are brothers) were raised by a father that was a pastor and they tell a really great story about that at the beginning of Side B.  They talk about that Gospel influence and sing a snippet of the Hymn “I’m Free” before breaking into one of my favorite songs, “Washed By the Water”. To continue that Gospel feel they went straight into “Testify” and the two work so great together.  It was moving for me.  I could picture myself at church with the whole congregation singing along.

 

If you like The Who, they squeezed in the song “Squeeze Box” into the song “Oh Carolina” which was a nice touch and unexpected for me.  I like the fact that don’t stick to the song they playing perfectly and they mix it up to give us fans a different taste.  It keeps things interesting.  Now, the only song I wasn’t thrilled about was their cover of “Stand By Me” only because it has been done by so many people before.  The best thing was the story in front of it.  The guys are pretty damn funny when they want to be.  Okay, it was nice hearing others in the band sing with this song as well.  Alright, it wasn’t so bad.

On Side C, another of my favorite songs they play is “Stones Under Rushing Water”.  This time Drew & Ellie Holcomb come out and join the band with one of the highlights from the album.  Another song that is very heavily Christian based and is so powerful.

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The last song on the album is the most daring.  The band turned off the microphones (except to record this obviously) and went up the front of the stage. They laid it out and sang the song a cappella.  They let the acoustics of the venue be their instrument and nailed it on the song “Brother” which was one of their biggest hits.  It is really brave, but they made it look easy as they sounded sensational. A nice way to end the album.

The final touch of the album was on Side D.  They only had 3 sides of music (which is a little disappointing as I would have liked a lot more), but on Side D they put an etching of the album cover which is always cool to have as well.

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All-in-all, it is a great album and I loved every minute of it and I am a little disappointed I missed this show. If you are a fan, you have to get this release.  If you aren’t, it might be a nice way to see who these guys really are and what they are all about.  I don’t do a track listing score on a live album, so you will just get an overall rating.  I am biased, but I am tyring to be as objective as I can be, I will give the album a 4 out of 5 stars.

My negatives are the album really should have been longer (throw in a couple more songs) and it wasn’t my ideal track listing.  I know I am nitpicking, but I want what I want.  Otherwise, it is fantastic.  The production and overall sonics are superb. The band sounds great and Bear’s vocals sound like the albums for the most part.  He has a wonderfully strong voice with a little rough edge to it which is what I like in a rock singer.  Anyway, I loved it and I hope you give it a try and love it too.  Thanks and have a great day.

If you have time, check out the short film on the album.  It is worth your time…

 

 

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