I know the question that is on every NEEDTOBREATHE fan’s mind, so I’ll answer that one right away. Yes, Bo Rinehart’s departure can be felt on “Out of Body.” (Bo played guitar, mandolin, banjo, and did BGV’s for the band since their inception. He was also one of the primary songwriters. He left the band earlier this year to pursue other artistic endeavors.) So, yeah, this album feels like a transition for the band. They are creating music for the most part without one of their primary contributors for the first time in 15 years. (Bo does have co-writing credits on a handful of songs.) That sort of change will inevitably affect the sound and energy of a band.
Even so, the remaining members of NTB have responded admirably. While “Out of Body” is a transitional album, it’s an incredibly effective one. For one, Bear Rinehart – lead singer of the band – does some of his best work. And honestly, if you are a fan of the band, a big reason is how much you like Bear’s voice. He does not disappoint. He sings with all the intensity, passion, and energy you’ve come to expect. Seth Bolt (bass, BGVs) and Josh Lovelace (keys, piano, BGVs) continue to impress as well.
Do the songs work?
The most pressing question, though, is do the songs themselves work? I won’t belabor the point. Yes, they work. On my first listen, I sent a message to the other Rambling Ever On staff and said, “It’s good. It’s not “Outsiders” or “The Reckoning” good. But it’s good.” I’ve listened to it a few more times since and I’m still in that same headspace. I do think most of the songs work really well. To me, standouts include the emotionally charged opener, “Mercy’s Shore”, the toe-tapping team up with Drew and Ellie Holcomb “Survival”, the impressive “Who Am I”, as well as the penultimate number, “Bottom of a Heartbreak.” And the songs that didn’t completely win me over on that first listen are already growing on me. That’s typically the sign of a solid record.
If you are a fan, chances are pretty strong you will enjoy this album. It’s far less out of their wheelhouse than “HARD LOVE” seemed to be, though it’s not as aggressively risky either. It’s more polished and produced than “Rivers in the Wasteland”, but seems more cohesive musically speaking. The sound is unmistakably NEEDTOBREATHE, but leans more towards pop rock with a southern rock influence. I won’t even attempt to rank it in the band’s catalogue. On first impressions only, I would say it falls somewhere in the middle – and frankly, based on their impressive track record, that’s not a bad thing at all.
“Out of Body” will be welcomed by fans and will likely create many more. NEEDTOBREATHE is figuring out who they are all over again, and if “Out of Body” is the result of all that transition and change, the future is very bright for the band.