I remember when I first heard NeedtoBreathe. I stopped whatever I was doing and just let the soundwaves of the hopeful lyrics of “Brother” wash over my troubled and tired person.
The lyrics spoke to me and ended up giving me the courage to walk away from things that were no longer serving me:
- a job full of abuse and demeaning treatment by the family who owned the business
- a mental breakdown leading to several attempts of suicide ideation
- away from a guy who made me paint his name in every sky only to leave when the rain clouds poured out and opened wide
As I started listening to the album, I felt all the heavy weights of that toxic time in my life literally lift off my soul and I no longer feel their burden but only now see them in the light of God’s grace and glory.
The Grammy Award nominated platinum-certified South Carolina trio-Bear Rinehart [lead vocals, guitar], Seth Bolt [ bass, vocals] and Josh Lovelace [keys, vocals] look at life, family, and friends through a youthful prism.
Their 2014 album Rivers in the Wasteland hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 200 with platinum-selling Hot 100 hit “Brother” [feat. Gavin DeGraw] and “Multiplied,” which garnered their first Grammy nod.
They identify as a rock band first and foremost looking to “shed a little light in the world and have an absolute blast” along the way.
“In order to be a child again, some things have to go away,” Bear leaves off. “However, you find new beauty and love. I know we did” (Elektra Records).
Song by Song Review
Mercy’s Shore: A folk rock intro to the album with soulful vocals and vocal layering. The musicality creates a build and crash sound that mimics that of a wave crashing upon the shore. A hopeful look at God’s mercy and glorious grace.
Alive: One of my favorites off the album for it’s running through an open field truly free feel, built up by a heavenly chant, robust riff, and boisterous groove. It explores the feeling of truly being alive in Christ.
Hang On: energetic guitars, a stadium size refrain and nostalgic lyrics paint this very timely song about holding on to the feeling of bliss from your youth.
Survival: A duet with Drew and Ellie Holcomb with a bluesy rock musicality and old school gospel sound. It explores that Jesus is the answer to our very existence.
Child Again: A crystallized musical exploration of child-like faith that features glimmering keys and expansive rhythms
Out of Body: The title track from the album is an alternative rock song about this idea that once we think and feel with our spirit, who the Son sets free is free indeed. It has an infectious groove and rhythm and utilizes vocal layering.
Who Am I?: The latest promotional single for the album, poetic exploring the idea of defining our identity in Christ, it’s musicality is made up of handclaps, soaring chorus, and emotionally charged vocals. Overall, it’s a song about the fight to accept, embrace and trust that the greatest love requires nothing in return.
Banks: A song written for the women in the band member’s lives, the musicality is built with acoustic guitars, romantic, vulnerable lyrics, soft vocals, vocal layering, and windpipes that build a beautiful swelling of the overall listening experience.
Riding High: Bluesy Soul Rock meets Classic Rock Feel (Guns N Roses Welcome To the Jungle meets Poison’s Nothing But a Good Time) exploring this concept of living large in the mercy and grace of God.
Bottom of a Heartbreak: Soft Rock Ballad about the true emotions one feels while in the midst of a heartbreak featuring vulnerable emotive lyrics and pain portrayed in the vocal performance.
Seasons: Delicate piano, plaintive strumming and starkly powerful vocals, this song finishes out the album by telling the true story of a close friend of the band’s struggles with fertility and adoption. It’s based on the passage in Ecclesiastes 3. God makes everything beautiful in it’s time (Ecc 3:11).
Out of Body is NeedToBreathe’s seventh studio album and will be released to the public this Friday August 28, 2020 from Elektra Records and available for pre-order now wherever music is sold.
Imagine the absolute screeching brakes sound that resounded when the entire world, affected by COVID-19 pandemic and still dang bored in quarantine, when Taylor Swift posted the image announcing her new album was written and recorded entirely in quarantine, and with no warning was released on July 24, 2020.
Folklore is the eighth studio album by Taylor Swift who recorded the entire album while in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With elements of indie folk, alternative rock, electro-folk, and chamber pop it brings Taylor Swift’s natural storytelling ability to life without the upbeat pop sounds. It is written in entirely in third person narrative flowing from a stream of consciousness.
It debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and also helped Swift gain a Guinness World Record for the biggest opening day for an album by a female artist on Spotify.
Song by Song Review
Click here to listen to the entire album while reading this review.
Taking us back to her RED album era, Swift’s Folklore is a book of lyrical poems and stories that will peak your curiosity, inspire you, and educate you. Few songwriters have the power of achieving all three in one album.
The 1: Driven by a danceable, bouncy arrangement of trickling piano, minimal percussion and electronic accents. Lyrically it centers around the nostalgic remembrance of myths and lost loves. It contemplates a what if scenario with at person being possible.
Cardigan: With elements of folk and soft rock ballad driven by a stripped down arrangement of a drum sample and moody atmosphere, it discusses the teenage love triangle which follows a love triangle from three people’s perspectives at different times in their lives.
The Last Great American Dynasty: Features a glitchy alternative production with classical instruments. It tells the story of Rebekah Harkness, who was hated by the town and blamed for the death of her then-husband and heir to Standard Oil. Swift makes parallels to her own career and the harsh criticisms she’s received.
Exile: A melancholic duet with Bon Iver over dramatic strings. The weepy song begins with a plodding piano, advancing into a climax of chorused vocals, synths, and glorious harmonies. This song describes two ex-lovers seeing each other following a break-up.
My Tears Ricochet: A Gothic song encompasses twinkling music box instrumentals, backing church choir vocals, reverberated ad-libs in the bridge, and shuddering drums. Sung from the perspective of a deceased lover’s ghost, it is one of my favorites off the album.
Mirrorball: Folk-tinged jangle-pop and dream pop song with a nervous dance-floor sensibility, swirling vocals, jangly guitars and pedal steel. It depicts Swift as a reflective disco ball: she sees herself as reflecting all the personalities around her, she entertains others, and she shatters like glass when her heart is broken.
Seven: A nostalgic escapist song sung in her upper register about Taylor’s childhood friends who seemed to have an unhappy life at home.
August: This track’s musicality is my favorite off the album, driven by acoustic guitar, shimmering vocal reverb and Swift’s perfectly timed key-changes. This gloomy pop rock song and dream pop ballad talks about a summer fling that is ill-fated.
This is Me Trying: Musically, an orchestral grandeur surrounds Swift’s ghostly vocals drenched in reverb, talking about accountability and regret.
Illicit Affairs: I kept this track on repeat for an entire day. Over a stripped down arrangement, finger-plucked strings and soft horns narrates infidelity and highlights the measures the disloyal protagonist has to carry out in order to keep the affair between a man and herself a secret.
Her wordplay in this track is absolute fire.
Invisible String: Banjo-driven with an airy-folk production consisting of acoustic riff and thumping vocal backbeats. It references an east Asian folk myth about a red thread of fate tying two soulmates together.
Mad Woman: A song that tackles the taboo associated with female rage making comments referencing her battles with Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta over owning her music and rapper Kanye West who defamed her on his song, “Famous.”
Epiphany: A Coldplay-like song; it’s an ethereal hymn that depicts the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic paying homage to healthcare workers and comparing them to her grandfather, a military veteran who served in World War II. The reverent vocals in the song are supported by “glacial” piano.
Betty: A folk rock and country song with intertwining harmonica, it concludes the third perspective of the teenage love triangle from the perspective of the cheating boyfriend James.
Peace: Musically, a pulse juxtaposed with a lush guitar bassline, a calm tune describing Swift’s maturation and changing view of romance.
Hoax: A despondent note of hopeful sadness compromises this piano ballad that closes out this incredible musical work. Filled with melancholy and darkness, “Hoax” narrates the struggles endured in a toxic relationship.
Sometimes you put an album on and instantly feel it was exactly what you needed to hear following some traumatic experiences.
That’s what Rare started out as for me. Like a private message or a text from a close friend about what you went through, what you feel, and how to get past it, this album was the healing soundtrack I needed to press play on.
Like even the week it was released January 10, 2020 was so timely, and divinely gifted to me when I didn’t know how to feel about the first week of the year which was jam packed with chaos and a cacophony of bullshit.
Channeling Paula Abdul for the 21st century, Gomez’s third studio album quickly charted the Billboard 200 at #1.
It’s a midtempo pop and dance album with influences from electronic, latin pop, and R& B. Lyrically, it’s themes are self-love, acceptance, and empowerment.
Click the above graphic to listen to the album while reading this review.
Rare: Gomez’s favorite song off this new album with a sound of compromised backing vocals and muffled instruments as if the whole thing has been dunked underwater. The song is a self-empowerment anthem about independence and self-love.
Dance Again: Blended genres of funk, dance, electro, and electropop. It’s lowkey yet infectious musically. It’s main message is acceptance.
I kickstart the rhythm. All the trauma’s in remission. No, I don’t need permission.
Look at Her Now: Reviewed in a previous post but this is an upbeat song about becoming stronger person after a turbulent relationship. Acknowledging that you mess up and you go through stuff but you always come out of it just feeling like a boss.
Lose You to Love Me: The only ballad on this album. It has bare bones production, plucked violins, booming bass, tearjerker piano, an orchestra, and multi-layered vocals from Gomez. It was produced and co-written with Billie Eillish’s partner in crime Finneas. The melancholy lyrics talk about her split from ex, Justin Bieber.
Ring: The latin-influenced track has musicality that is likened to Goyte’s Somebody I Used to Know and Santana’s Smooth. It’s about expecting the best & realizing you deserve the best.
Vulnerable: My favorite song off the album because of it’s unbreakable huge heart type love themes and so many beautiful lyrics. A warm disco and electropop record with a moody synth groove and elements of italo disco and tropical house.
People You Know: Electropop musicality contrast this melancholy song about the pain of come and go people friends, lovers, and acquaintances.
Let Me Get Me: Influences of Latin music on the upbeat and dance-floor ready song about lyrically coming out of body and detaching herself from the thoughts in her head, and she doesn’t want the joy she feels to be shot down.
Crowded Room: R&B song about the instant connection you have with someone across a crowded room.
Kinda Crazy: Tongue in cheek tune and sinuous kiss-off driven by a clean bluesy guitar lick and accompanying horns, about a lover who mixed his signals and changed his tune.
Fun: Playful and catchy co-written with Julia Michaels about a casual relationship with someone not good for her
Cut You Off: A slinky downtempo pop song with influences of funk and a slam jam about moving on from a relationship and the empowerment you feel.
How could I confuse that shit for love?
A Sweeter Place: An R&B collaboration with Kid Cudi about finding a place free of worry and brighter days are ahead.
Gomez hits it out of the park with this treasure of a musical masterpiece. It proves she’s a strong artist, strong human, and yes in fact, very rare in today’s musical scope.
I have actually found that for a while there it looked like less music was coming out and I wasn’t sure how I would survive without new music. So I waited until I had more than five songs to discuss and highlight. For this month’s mix, it’s a mix of new pop and some new Christian/inspirational that I found while the COVID-19 pandemic has been going on.
Despite the pandemic, many artists still put out the albums they had worked so hard on, and I look forward to reviewing those. Until then, here’s a summer playlist for you curated by yours truly.
Click the above graphic to listen to the playlist while you read.
Boyfriend: I remember the first time I heard this. I went for my morning walk and was instantly into the backbeat of this song. It makes this simple song go from whiny and complaining about being single and occasionally lonely into a dance party. It’s almost like a fun pop twist on the saying, “It takes two to tango.”
I Love Yous: Sampling “No More I Love Yous” by Annie Lennox, this song talks about the importance of healing and self-care following a break-up with someone you cared for deeply, and not jumping right into a new relationship.
Holy Water: Anthem of various genres with a timeless sound, this song celebrates forgiveness which believers have once they come face to face with Jesus and his never-ending grace.
I’m Ready: A choir-filled anthem with a powerful declaration of putting it out in the Universe that you are ready for love to find you and love you back.
Break My Heart: Disco-oriented, a dance party track about finally being in a happy place and wondering if this new person will end up only breaking your heart.
Genetics: A single off Trainor’s album Treat Myself that talks about body positivity and how it can be hard with the surgery craze of the West Coast. It also has this runway type musicality.
Savage: Made famous by TikTok, this hip-hop self-love anthem defines what it means to be a female in today’s world.
Together: A song of hope released early amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, it touches on sticking together through the good and the bad. It’s got a choir-like anthem musicality.
Clean: A song about taking care of your own sanity and mental well-being after you clean someone from your life. It has a multi-layered vocals musicality that mimics a choir.
Yikes: Trap banger released early after Minaj’s retirement announcement. The track is 2:36 and hits hard from start to finish.
All My Friends Are Fake: A beautiful lyrical look at how unreliable people can be, and it ends up causing people to develop trust issues.
That Way: A piano ballad about two friends who have an unspoken chemistry which messes with your head and causes tension on the friendship
CRZY: This song came out in 2016 but I just discovered its genius. CRZY is a defiant R &B ode to take back the reigns on Kehlani’s own narrative. She’s not addressing anyone who counts her out, but instead applauds her own success and the challenges she’s faced.
Daisies: One of my favorite songs right now; a self-empowerment anthem that features a mid-tempo production in its verses and a guitar in its chorus. It just reminds the listener to remain true to the course you set for yourself, regardless of what others may think.
Stuck With U: An R&B Collaboration between Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande to raise money for first responders during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Savage (Remix): A brand new verse from Meg and an equal verse from Beyonce. They put this song out to raise money from COVID-19 relief for their hometown of Houston.
X: When I first heard this song, it brought me right back to being ten years old and obsessed with Ricky Martin. With musicality that reminisces his first album, the Jonas Brothers hit another one out of the park with the way they fuse genres into pop music. It’s dancy, fun, and muy caliente.
Born and raised in Pensecola, FL, Zach Williams now resides in Jonesboro, Arkansas. In 2007-2016, Williams was lead singer of christian band Zach Williams and the reformation until they disbanded in 2012.
He became a solo artist with Dove Award winning “makes you want to dance” Church Choir, and followed up with another chart-topping song “Fear is A Liar.”
Released on October 4, 2019 Williams’s Rescue Story debuted on the Christian Billboard chart at #2, and includes a duet that saw a lot of radio play “There was Jesus” featuring country music legend Dolly Parton.
Song by Song Review
Walk With You: A song about temptation and how even in the midst of it we can walk with Jesus.
Less Like Me: A song about wanting to emulate Jesus and the fruits of the Spirit.
Rescue Story: The first single off the album and title track, it’s gospel musicality tells every believer’s story centers around the moment when Jesus rescued each of us and continues to rescue us each day of our lives.
Stand Up: My favorite song on the album for its fun bouncy celebratory musicality about feeling overwhelmed by Jesus’s mighty power and love.
Slave To Nothing: A bluesy style praise declaration: “I’m a slave to nothing.”
Under My Feet: A song telling the enemy he has no power or authority here.
There was Jesus ft. Dolly Parton: A song that reminds you that Jesus is always there for us and walking alongside
Heaven Help Me: A song you sing when life gets heavy
Baptized: A song about feeling redeemed
Face To Face: A song about heaven and seeing Jesus face to face
Overall, Williams will help any believer believe again, be baptized anew, and receive all the Lord has planned for you.
Most people who listen to music would tell you they listen to it for various reasons. Some to dance, some to sing along, and like me, some to inspire you to write or to feel.
When I put on my headphones, I tune in to the music and away from the world. Music becomes a transportation device. I instantly go to a memory, a feeling, or in some cases, it makes me think of certain people.
There has been no band,in my opinion, like Hot Chelle Rae. They sing songs that actually lift me up and make my day, and they make me feel okay like no one else’s music does. I want to believe it’s because all three members of the band have a perfect balance of empathy and compassion for what it means to be human and insanely good writing skills.
So when they announced they were coming back after a 9 year hiatus, I felt like the world was right again. When they left music, there was a gaping void for me. Sure, I just listened to Lovesick Electric and Whatever on repeat but I didn’t want to believe they were over.
I supported the boys solo work because it was equally as good but still I longed for the day I could say to anyone who would care, “Hey, have you heard the new Hot Chelle Rae?”
And honestly, as someone who has been to two headlining shows featuring Hot Chelle Rae, I can say they also put on an amazing live show. They interact with their fans both at the show and regularly on social media and I mean, who even does that anymore?
It’s this personal feel. This friend group. This “we are still three boys from Nashville” vibes they give off in everything they do that makes you not only feel like a fan but you have 3 talented friends.
I have been a Beautiful Freak since 2011. I saw them perform on the AMAs and I literally stopped what I was doing to pay attention. And it’s this commanding sound and magnetism that steals your heart in the best way.
Their EP is nothing short of a blessed fruit found in a desolate wasteland or more currently, the last roll of toilet paper during a global health crisis. It’s just what you were looking for, and you don’t know why but you needed it.
Song by Song Review
I Hate LA: Hot Chelle Rae’s first single since 2014, it’s a contemporary alt-rock meets pop break-up song with a Hot Chelle Rae twist. Hurray for their return to music (personally, no other band’s music gives me purpose) and their unique lyrical storytelling. Unlike their previous music, it has a more mature sound in terms of songwriting and musicality.
I mean what other band has used “Zack Galifianakis” in a song so smoothly.
This review originally appeared in a previous post.
Tangerine:After taking a hiatus Hot Chelle Rae returns with a sweet new song with a tangy twist. With their signature catchy melody and vocal performance, but with a sound that reminded me of Maroon 5, I am into this new sound from the American rock band. Maybe it’s not necessarily a new sound but a maturing to my ears as well as the perspective of these three musicians. Either way, one could say this new song is on repeat. Why? It’s all the color I need.
This review originally first appeared on Instagram.
Stay by Hot Chelle Rae: The third single off the forthcoming Tangerine EP about the loneliness and needing someone to fill the void you feel. It’s got an EDM pop musicality while lead singer Follese’s vocals emote every ounce of how much he needs to not be alone.
Review previously appeared in this post
Tomorrow Me by Hot Chelle Rae: OMG, sorry not sorry that I love this band so much.
Straight after the COV-19 outbreak and pandemic, and deep into the beginning of our science fiction level quarentine in real life, it’s a great track to be released about going all in and letting the mistakes and the problems of the night and all the “sins and debauchery” be something that this person can handle after the hangover subsides the following day. The minor piano chords in the musicality hint at the subtle regret of the speaker’s lack of remorse in the moment. I haven’t stopped listening since it came out last Friday. It’s just that good, and will also be featured on the forthcoming Tangerine EP.
It’s a party anthem and a “I Like It Like That” for 2020.
Previously reviewed in this post
Too Much: The song that makes the EP oh so sweet. Sentimental and soft musicality echoes the broken heart of the moment when you love someone too much which is what this song is all about but it has the signature sound of a Hot Chelle Rae hit and definitely hit me hard when it was released as it echoed emotions I had but couldn’t express until this song put them into perfect poetic portion as I had been feeling this way toward someone who didn’t feel the same.
You can pick up the EP that costs the same as a literal bag of tangerines ($4.95) wherever you stream/purchase music.
Also make sure to follow them on TikTok because you will laugh your ass off at every video they upload. Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, they are my favorite user on the platform.