Our Take: On “Hard Love,” NEEDTOBREATHE Deliver a Powerful Message

NEEDTOBREATHE © Eric Ryan Anderson
NEEDTOBREATHE © Eric Ryan Anderson

Renae's Take


Growing up, we were told that there were certain topics that were a bit taboo to talk about publicly. One of those topics, for example, could be your bank statement. Another one of these risky subjects could be your report card and your grades. Even though these two could be minimally hazardous to discuss in a big group of people, peers still have the conversation. In life, it is important to have the hard conversations, and it’s that willingness that separates NEEDTOBREATHE from the rest.


NEEDTOBREATHE are known for talking, rather singing, about a difficult topic: Faith. Faith is a touchy one; when people are outspoken about what they believe in, others tend to think that they are preaching what is correct – what everyone should believe in. In a world where any opinion has the ability to offend someone, NEEDTOBREATHE’s music conveys a powerful message in a way that anyone can get behind. The band’s writing makes it so the listener can pick who or what the song is about. The lyrics are so relatable that people can close their eyes, and whoever’s picture is in their mind when the song is playing, that’s what resonates throughout.

Perhaps the greatest example of this is shown on the band’s recently-released sixth studio album, H A R D L O V E (out July 15 via Atlantic). The album deals with the hardships of being on the road day in and day out. It shares the band’s troubles with keeping their relationships thriving during the time as well. HARD LOVE certainly talks about some hardships, but it also illuminates the power of moving through the difficult times and the ability to rise above.

The title track, “Hard Love,” explains just that. The lyrics,

Hold on tight a little longer
what don’t kill you makes you stronger
get back up ‘cuz it’s a hard love

are repeated through the chorus and the song. Lead singer Bear Rinehart repeats the words over heavy percussion, which intensifies the significance of the message. With the recurrence of these specific lyrics, it is drilled into the listener’s mind as almost a mantra of sorts. This song is also the first full-length song, which sets the tone for the rest of the album.

NEEDTOBREATHE © Eric Ryan Anderson
NEEDTOBREATHE is Bear Rinehart (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Bo Rinehart (backing vocals, guitar), Seth Bolt (backing vocals, bass) and Josh Lovelace (backing vocals, keys) // © Eric Ryan Anderson

The song “Clear” tells the story of a man being led by a guiding light, presumably a person. The narrator explains that because of this guide, he will not let others down and will be there for them. It is apparent that his love has affected his life in the most positive of ways. In the apex of the song there is a chorus of singers in the background to emphasize the happiness this love is providing him. With the addition of the backing chorus the song is elevated into that of inspiration. This is definitely a song that will lift your spirits during a rocky day. The music and the production have a calming factor that will help you get through the struggles in your life.

The chorus of singers reemerges in the song, “Happiness.” With lyrics, “So I’m asking you to show me some forgiveness/it’s all for you in my pursuit of happiness,” this song is closely related to “Clear.” It has the same type of message: His love is the driving force in his hunt for happiness. The chorus’ main percussion is the clapping that accompanies the singing. This gives the song a gospel feel, like the band is preaching about bettering yourself and finding that one thing to bring the bliss into your life. A feel good song, “Happiness” adds to the underlying theme exuding from this album.


NEEDTOBREATHE’s most faith-driven song on the album comes with “Testify.” The song is about finding peace at a fountain. This joyful song takes listeners on a journey of finding true harmony when they let go of their sins and worries and confess to the wrongdoings they have committed. In the song it is clear that after admitting your past mistakes, your mind will clear and you will feel weightless. The effervescence of the song drives the message home. Piano-led with a hint of ukulele, “Testify” will restore your belief and make you yearn for the magic fountain the band croons about.

Another standout song is “Great Night.” With a little help from Shovels and Rope, an Americana folk duo from South Carolina, NEEDTOBREATHE are up for just that: A great night. It’s the type of outing that everyone craves, a night with no rules, no problems, and hours of entertainment. This is one of the songs on the album with the most up-tempo beat that is accurately paired with the tone of the lyrics. “Great Night” should unquestionably be part of a ‘pump up’ playlist; it’s a song that will no doubt get listeners excited and ready for whatever lies ahead of them.

NEEDTOBREATHE create their own form of pop/rock music by adding a hint of Motown funk beats to their classic guitar and percussion duo. The horns do a fantastic job at accompanying the lead singer’s rasp as he glides effortlessly through the lyrics. The lyrics and the music are constructed in a calculated way so the listener can create their own meaning and feeling to what is being played. Faith-based messages are almost subliminal, but the intention is at the album’s core.

What is notable about HARD LOVE is that it has 12 remarkable songs. What is exceptional about this album is that these 12 songs have their own identity and the ability to come together to create an incredible, cohesive album. Many bands struggle with songs sounding extremely similar and not being able to stand alone as singles. It is a skill that can only be learned through longevity. NEEDTOBREATHE pair their years of music experience with their exemplary talent to showcase this album to the masses.

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:: NEEDTOBREATHE Tour 2016 ::


w/Special Guests Mat Kearney, John Mark McMillan (8/17-9/25), Parachute (10/12-11/12), & Welshly Arms


17 – Raleigh, NC – Red Hat Amphitheater
18 – Charlotte, NC – Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre
19 – Charleston, SC – Volvo Car Stadium @ Family Circle Tennis Center
20 – Alpharetta, GA – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
22 – Vienna, VA – Wolf Trap
23 – Gilford, NH – Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion @ Meadowbrook
25 – Columbus, OH – Columbus Commons
26 – Cincinnati, OH – PNC Pavilion @ Riverbend Music Center
27 – Indianapolis, IN – Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn @ White River State Park
28 – Rochester Hills, MI – Meadow Brook
31 – Missoula, MT – Ogren Park @ Allegiance Field


1 – Redmond, WA – Marymoor Park
2 – Portland, OR – Oregon Zoo Amphitheatre
3 – Bend, OR – Les Schwab Amphitheater
6 – Boise, ID – Idaho Botanical Garden
8 – San Jose, CA – City National Civic Center
9 – Paso Robles, CA – Vina Robles Amphitheatre
10 – Los Angeles, CA – Greek Theatre
11 – San Diego, CA – Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre
13 – Salt Lake City, UT – Red Butte Garden
15 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
16 – Council Bluffs, IA – Stir Cove @ Harrah’s Casino
17 – Kansas City, MO – Starlight Theatre
18 – Southaven, MS – Landers Center
20 – Shreveport, LA – Shreveport Municipal Auditorium
22 – Tuscaloosa, AL – Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
23 – Nashville, TN – Ascend Amphitheater
24 – LaGrange, GA – The Sweetland Amphitheatre @ Boyd Park
25 – Knoxville, TN – Knoxville Coliseum


12 – Tampa, FL – USF Sundome
13 – St. Augustine, FL – St. Augustine Amphitheatre
14 – Pompano Beach, FL – Pompano Beach Amphitheatre
15 – Orlando, FL – Hard Rock Live
17 – New Orleans, LA – Sanger Theatre
18 – Houston, TX – Revention Music Center
20 – Lubbock, TX – United Supermarkets Arena
21 – Abilene, TX – Taylor County Expo Center
22 – Grand Prairie, TX – Verizon Theatre
23 – Austin, TX – Statesman Skyline Theater at the Long Center
25 – Oklahoma City, OK – Criterion Theater
27 – St. Paul, MN – Roy Wilkins Auditorium
28 – Madison, WI – Veterans Memorial Coliseum @ Alliant Energy Center
29 – St. Louis, MO – Chaifetz Arena @ St. Louis University
30 – Chicago, IL – Aragon Ballroom


2 – New York, NY – Beacon Theatre
4 – Boston, MA – Agganis Arena
5 – Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory
6 – Huntington, WV – Big Sandy Superstore Arena
7 – Grand Rapids, MI – DeltaPlex
9 – Lexington, KY – Rupp Arena @ Lexington Center
10 – Chattanooga, TN – Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Auditorium
11 – Greenville, SC – Bon Secours Wellness Arena
12 – Lynchburg, VA – Liberty University Vines Center

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