Needtobreathe Rivers In The Wasteland on LP + Download
Rivers In The Wasteland, Needtobreathe's latest album, opens a new chapter in the South Carolina-based rock band’s story. But the band, comprised of brothers Bear and Bo Rinehart and Seth Bolt, couldn’t have arrived here without the tumultuous narrative that came before, each aspect of their career building up to this point. After the band’s previous album, The Reckoning, was released in 2011, the group spent over two years on the road, where the musicians began grappling with both significant inner turmoil and the external pressure created by notoriety.
With the Rinehart brothers, sons of a pastor who hail from the rural town of Possum Kingdom, as the songwriting core of the band, Needtobreathe has built a successful career, earning a sizeable fanbase with their extensive touring. But tension between Bear and Bo was so high by the end of the touring cycle there was discussion of ending the band. The brothers kept to separate dressing rooms, uncertain that this was the sort of band they’d wanted to become, the possibility of quitting lingering in their minds.
“We were asking ourselves ‘Are you willing to change yourself in order to succeed?’” Bear says. “I think, in some ways, we tried that for a while. It was so tough on our souls and our stomachs and I think all of us knew that we couldn’t do that any longer. There was a moment where I thought the band was over. We had to take a break and meditate on what we each wanted Needtobreathe to be.”
For all three musicians, the answer was to return to the band’s roots and find the anchor of musical simplicity. They agreed that the most important moments of touring came at the end of each show, when they cut off the sound system in each venue and played directly to the fans. It’s a moment of realness Needtobreathe wanted to capture on their new album, a means of letting go of everything that isn’t truly essential to the song.
Bear and Bo began writing a year ago, while still intermittently touring on The Reckoning, doing most of the initial work at their own Plantation Studios in Charleston. The band then spent time at Fairfax Recordings (formally Sound City Studios) in Los Angeles and at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, to co-produce the album with the help of various producers, including Joe Chiccarelli, Kevin Augunas, Jerrod Bettis and Ed Cash. It was a long, sometimes tumultuous process, that ultimately yielded a collection of songs the band feels reflect who they want to be as musicians now.
The album reflects these sentiments, each song lending itself to the idea of honest expression and genuine identity. “More Heart, Less Attack” is the heart of Rivers In The Wasteland, written in the studio as a response to the pressure of doing something for the wrong reasons. “Rise Again,” a twanging acoustic ballad, is about the necessity of adversity in order to move forward and the pensively soulful “Difference Maker” contemplates the qualities the musicians hope to embody in their lives, embracing a sparse instrumentation that lends to the emotional tone of the song.“The Heart,” the disc’s lead single, is a stomping number imbued with an infectious sense of hopeful anticipation. In the end, after the album was complete, the band saw the connectivity of the songs, each songwriter’s contributions threaded together in a surprising way.
Rivers In The Wasteland balances a palpable tension between two very different songwriters with a sense of brotherhood and shared voices. The album reveals that truly honest and authentic music can only come when everyone in the band believes in the same thing. For the musicians, the hope is that the songs inspire their fans and emphasize how committed Needtobreathe is to doing what they love in a way that doesn’t compromise anything.
Needtobreathe Rivers In The Wasteland Track Listing:
2. State I'm In
3. Feet Don't Fail Me Now
4. Oh, Carolina
5. Difference Maker
6. Rise Again
7. The Heart
8. Where The Money Is
11. More Heart, Less Attack