Rivers in the Wasteland by NEEDTOBREATHE

Needtobreathe is an American alternative rock band from Seneca, South Carolina. The band is composed of Bear Rinehart with lead vocals, guitar, and piano, Bo Rinehart with backing vocals and guitar, and Seth Bolt with backing vocals and bass. Their most recent album is called “Rivers in the Wasteland” and was released this year. It is easily recognizable by their more organic and acoustic-driven sound, attributed to the recent resignation of their former drummer Joe Stillwell. This new album is more mature, featuring beautiful lyrics describing their never-ending faith, loyalty to each other, and relationship with God.

The opening song, “Wasteland” is the story of realizing what matters most to us in the end. Sometimes in all of our lives we feel as if we are living in a wasteland, constantly being bombarded with the negativity of society, and this song tells us to have hope and look for the “river in the wasteland”.

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This song perfectly sets up the album, by explaining the title of the album and revealing the trials and tribulations of the band right at the starting gate. “Brother” is a song essentially about the relationship of the band. Their brotherhood was put to the test with the resignation of Joe Stillwell, and they passed with flying colors. Not only did they come back even stronger than before, but it also reflected in their music. Lines like “brother let me be your shelter”, and “I can be the one you call when you’re low” show just how much they care for each other as a band. Bo Rinehart says in an interview “The band had to go through a pretty tough time to realize how much we needed each other, but we came out the other side with an appreciation that only brothers can have.”

“Difference Maker” is probably the most meaningful and thought-provoking songs in the album. At first it comes off as beautiful and inspirational, but after really listening to the lyrics, you realize it might be just the opposite. It is more of a sad satire, about an arrogant man who looks back at the crowd and says that he is the difference maker; he is the only one who speaks to God. What Bear wanted us to realize is, “How valuable are we, really?”. It shows us how foolish our pride really is.

The last song, “More Heart, Less Attack” pinpoints the theme of the band as a whole, to be more loving and less hateful or negative. It is the perfect ending to a fantastic album, leaving us inspired and wanting more.

In an interview, Bear says that the album to him is autobiographical. He says, “That’s what the wasteland is all about. There’s a crack in the door filled with light, and that’s all we have to start. Our ambition got in the way and our priorities got in the wrong place, and being on the road, and not knowing where we are. At the end of the album, the truth is there, and we’ve realigned our priorities. That really is the story of what happened to the band over that year. God had a plan for this album.” Rivers in the Wasteland teaches us about love, faith, and brotherhood with inspiring lyrics and beautiful melodies. It is an eye-opening album that I will continue to listen to for many years to come.

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