Rivers In The Wasteland



by theamazingjamez USER (11 Reviews)
April 20th, 2014 | 23 replies

Release Date: 2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Needtobreathe still has Heart...

Needtobreathe has always been subtly in the background of today’s rock and roll scene, making dents in the sculpture with each album. And the dents have only gotten larger as time has gone by. Needtobreathe’s 2009 album, The Outsiders, was definitely “Something Beautiful.” Then, in 2011, The Reckoning told us: “Keep Your Eyes Open.” And so, those of us who heard that message did, and are we glad.

Needtobreathe’s new album, Rivers In The Wasteland, clearly is a vision of the band taking a deep breath, reaching into the ground, pulling out some clay and forming something that is theirs, yet different than whatever they’ve done before. This difference is evident from the first track: While The Outsiders and The Reckoning opened with loud and proud, pounding anthems, Rivers opens with “Wasteland,” a soft, contemplative, and acoustic track. Most of us thought, “What exactly is Needtobreathe trying to pull, here?” Then, the chorus, dreaming of “a crack in the door filled with light,” and accompanied with Joe Stillwell’s drumming and fueled with inspiring piano chords, emerges. Now, most of us are nodding our heads in understanding. We now know what’s going on. Or, at least we thought we did.

The final chord of “Wasteland” kicks off into “State I’m In,” a booming, stomp-and-clap road song, complete with cowboy hollering. Although a song of this style is typical of Needtobreathe, there is something distinctly different. In contrast to the smooth sound of their previous work, most of the songs on Rivers have certain grit, a kind of “get your hands dirty” feel. It sounds as if the Rinehart brothers and their crew introduced a cowboy jam band to a southern gospel choir, mixed it all together, added salt for flavor, and recorded it. And it does sound good.

The album roars through the hollering of “State I’m In,” past the frantic calling of “Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now,” and into the trumpet fueled homecoming song, “Oh, Carolina.” After that fourth track, we’re all a little winded. We’ve had fun, but we’re a little out of breath. What does Needtobreathe do? The answer is “Difference Maker,” a slow-moving, thoughtful tune that’s both a welcome break from the over-the-top mayhem of the first part of the album and a truly inspiring song. With its slow acoustic opening to its gospel choir style chorus, “Difference Maker” is arguably the best track on the album. The soft ponder of “Difference Maker” leads right into the hopeful groove of “Rise Again,” which, just like that, eases us back into Needtobreathe’s big, booming sound, exemplified in “The Heart,” a proud ode to the things we love.

Then, for most of the second half of the album, we see Needtobreathe draw influence from the music of the past year: “Where The Money Is” reminisces the sounds and themes of OneRepublic’s Native, while “Brother” seems to be Needtobreathe’s take on Avicii’s “Hey Brother.” “Multiplied,” an uplifting gospel-style track, carries the album through to the peaceful “More Heart, Less Attack.” All in all, Rivers In The Wasteland is a satisfying album. There are times when the album does get a bit choppy (such as in “Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now), but no error is not made up for.

According to the Bear Rinehart, the songs on Rivers were an attempt to “evaluate what’s important about we do… When we first started this out, we just loved to do it and loved each other and loved the experience… I think there’s an incredible freedom in that, and when you start thinking your good at it is when you start losing it… we started realizing that we had gotten a little carried away, a little controlling of the thing that was happening to us, and we wanted to get back to that innocence.” Well, needless to say, Rivers In The Wasteland has heart…and what it takes.

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user ratings (56)

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 20th 2014


I see my friends listening to this, might have to check it out

April 21st 2014


Album Rating: 5.0

Joe left the band about 2 years ago. Randall Harris is the new drummer. Album is fantastic, no idea how it hasn't had more heat on


April 22nd 2014


First off, I am a huge fan of NeedToBreathe. Second of all, I have a BA in Communications in which I studied in extent the area of rhetorical analysis. With that being said, I have concluded that Bear is no longer following Jesus. I believe he is a talented, humble man who believes in a higher power, but not in that there is no other gospel other than Jesus. I believe he still wants to appeal to Christians though in order to reach their market. Here's why...

Wasteland-A song written while in a tough season of life, while simply only debating and wishing that God's promises are true.

State I'm in- This is a song of confusion and being lost.

Feet Don't Fail Me Now- He has a reason to be taken down and exposed, but no one has figured that out yet. "I would rather die than have to hang it up". I interpret this as he would rather not stand up for what he truly believes in than to not give his audience what they want.

Difference Maker- Verses & Chorus expose that his pride has destroyed what he has built. The chorus unsuccessfully uses the tool of irony(meaning he states the opposite of what he actually means) due to the fact that it has often been missed by his audience. While in attendance of their concert in Davis, CA he took a pause before the bridge to state that people were embracing the chorus as truth, and then explaining we are not difference makers. In a moment where the majority of the crowd expected him to preach the gospel of Christ, he went on to state on the topic of God that "there is no way to know any more than anyone else does", I infer from this statement that he believes there is no objective truth. He started another sentence, then stopped almost immediately, appearing as though he was wrestling with the decision of wether or not to state what he truly believes in and jeopardize losing the majority of his fan base, or to stay quiet in order not to, as well as to not offend anyone the thousands of people staring back at him. He went on to sing the bridge, "I am on the fence about nearly everything I've seen", a line that clearly declares a stance of agnosticism. "I have felt the fire that has been put out with too much gasoline", a line that states his fire has been put out. He has recently offered commentary on this song to appeal to Christians, but it is blatantly obvious to me what he truly is expressing through his music.

Rise Again- "Set my sights on where I'm going, and my goodbyes to where I've been" - Embracing his new beliefs, leaving his old behind. "Singing farewell King of the broken, So long my friend" -Sounds like a break up with Jesus, no?

April 22nd 2014



The heart- "Goes where he wants never does get caught,
Pushing this line like the Lord ain't comin'" - He can write about whatever he wants, the Christian market tends not to question nor think for themselves, but rather accept what is given to them.

"Where the money is" - He knows the money is in the Christian market, but wishes it weren't. The guilt he feels for appealing to Christians for financial gain is the reason why he wishes he didn't know where the money lies.

Multiplied- A song meant to appeal to Christians. I believe he still believes in a higher power, the concept of God, but like he stated live in Davis, CA.. "there's no way to know about anything that is above you".

"More heart, less attack" - A call to all to live a life of love, not of attack. Assuming this is also directed at judgmental Christians, with the potential that he knowingly will eventually be attacked... He drank the water and felt his veins block. Sorry NeedToBreathe fans, but I don't think he's drinking the water anymore.

April 24th 2014


Kyle...I believe you couldn't be further from the truth about their faith. How do you know a man's heart?
It sounds like you're spinning their lyrics to state your own case. I believe if you've listened to Christian radio since "Difference Maker" hit the air you'd hear Bear explain the meaning of the song. Air1 plays an excerpt of his meaning of the song.

One question: do you think the same thing about Jon Foreman's lyrics from Switchfoot? His lyrics are subtle but cause you to actually think about your faith.

I think we as Believers, sometimes, are offended if a band says they're Christians but don't sing directly about Christ. What's wrong with being a rock band who are Believers in an industry filled with filth? They can be a "light shining in the darkness". I respect your opinion but believe you're reaching a bit too much here.

April 24th 2014


good first review. Just an fyi, you can put album titles in italics by putting [ i ] before the title and [ / i ] after it (with no spaces in between the characters).

Look forward to reading more of you stuff though. Keep it up.

April 28th 2014


Kyle McHargue I came across this website earlier today. Just happened to see a certain comment that made me want to get an
account just to speak my opinion. I am a Christian. I struggle everyday all day long to have a relationship with Christ. I also thank
Him everyday, for I know He will never leave me when I struggle, when I get made at Him, when I loose faith. I am no better than
any other person on this earth. EVERYBODY STRUGGLES, EVERYONE HAS DOUBTS. We are human, we will never be perfert, BUT
we are ALL children of God! Praise God for loving us more then our little human brains could even imagine or understand. The
NEEDTOBREATHE boys do explain about their struggles they have had. I was just at a meet and greet/ small concert of theirs 2
weeks ago and Bear did get personal about the problems they have had before making this album. There were fights, some falling
outs but he talked about how love overcame it all. He also talked about how nothing is more important then having love for family,
friends, and for everyone on this earth. Money or fame is more important then having love for one another, hints why Bear and Bo
wrote Brother, More Heart Less Attack and so on. I repect that everyone has an opinion. But for me, from what I heard and also felt
in my own heart, Bear was being very honest about his personal problems and struggles. Speaking the truth about your own
doubts just gets you closer to Christ in your realtionship with Him. I do have to correct you in your comment when you suggested
the lyrics about More Heart Less Attack. Bear wrote "I drank the water and felt my veins pop," not veins block. And also when Bear
speaks of being nearly sanctified, nearly broken, I'm down the river, I'm nearly open. Then again with "Im down the river, to where
I'm going," for alot of us it takes the worst struggles in our lives to make us fall to our knees and give up trying to fix our problems
by ourselves, we finally hit rock bottom where there is no where else to go and no anwers to our problems. Then we finally give our
problems to the Lord, He takes those burdens that were weighing us down and He lifts us back up. Giving us that desire of living
for Him and knowing why we are here and where we are going. Praise the Lord for never putting us through situations we can't
handle! God Bless you

April 30th 2014


Album Rating: 4.5

To you all:

Thank you so much for your commentary, support, and aid! I'm glad that you enjoyed the review.

May 12th 2014


Album Rating: 3.5

No offense but this is a music site, not a religious blog.

May 27th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

This is a music site, but they are a band that deals heavily with religious imagery and themes which is what is being discussed here.

June 10th 2014


Love needtobreathe and the latest album, "rivers in the wasteland". I have been blessed to see them live, 7 times, the latest show being at The Tabernacle in the ATL, June 1. I have been to many a live show in my time and I can honestly say this is one band who is not only incredibly talented and amazing live, but they somehow manage to get lyricists, musicians and performers.

If you ever have the opportunity to catch a live show, do yourself the favor and see them. The energy and passion they bring, night after night, show after show is incredible.

As far as the previous comments go regarding their faith, if you read or listen to interviews with the brothers rinehart, I believe their faith is actually stronger than before, while writing about their daily struggles, as it's something we can all relate to.

I hope these guys are around for a long time to come. They make my heart happy and I'm looking forward to seeing them in Baton Rouge this September. Great bunch of guys, great artists....they continue to bless me, whether it's sacred or secular, their music touches my soul.

These guys are

June 22nd 2014


Kyle, I'm going to have to agree with Bervin1417 on this one. I've watched multiple interviews with Bear and Bo. If you read here you can see what Bear says about his actual intent behind 'Difference Maker.' Also, he said that 'Where the Money Is' is about the band learning to not focus on the earthly fame they are receiving, but tune into what they're doing for Christ. Thus, he doesn't want to know where the money is, as it would be a distraction to him and his fellow band mates. In 'Wasteland,' he talks about where the band had been, and the "crack in the door filled with light" is their refocusing on God's plan. Jesus's provision is all they need "to get by." And in 'Rise Again' I wouldn't say he's abandoning his faith or in ANY way breaking up with Jesus. King of the broken refers to himself. He is leaving his past, but not his past faith, his past brokenness and pride. The same pride he talks about in Difference Maker. I just figured I'd share my opinion, and I hope you might be able to see my point of view too! Have a great day!

June 26th 2014


what's all this

June 26th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

Not a bad song on the entire album.

July 1st 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

I'll get it together when you learn how to spell "epitome"

July 8th 2014


Album Rating: 2.0

Yeah, this seems kinda rehashed and monotonous. Not really feeling any of it.

July 8th 2014


Epitome of mainstream rock yet he 5's crosses.

July 20th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

A lot of walls of text in this thread.

I'm just popping in to say this is decent but a little disappointing.

Digging: Slaughter Beach, Dog - At The Moonbase

August 31st 2014


I think this is just as good as The Reckoning but for different reasons.

September 23rd 2014


Album Rating: 5.0

Absolutely love this album, I think they've gotten better with every album. I didn't think they could top The Reckoning but they did and its awesome:D

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