Link to our Facebook
Link to our Instagram

Album Review: NEEDTOBREATHE - 'Caves'

14 September 2023 | 3:33 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

NEEDTOBREATHE's latest album, 'Caves', is a collection of instantly catchy, life-affirming rock songs for marking pivotal life events.


NEEDTOBREATHE (Credit: David Od)

Lead vocalist/guitarist/pianist Bear Rinehart – the son of a Christian pastor – grew up around gospel music and has previously self-described NEEDTOBREATHE as “the biggest band that you’ve never heard of”, so don’t feel bad if you’re tardy to the party (fun fact: they supported Tay Tay back in 2011). 

Caves, NEEDTOBREATHE’s genre-blending ninth record features banjo, harmonica, strings, arena-ready “woah-OH-oh!” singalong chorus moments – see: When You Forgive Somebody (“ set yourself free”) and Reaching Out To Find You) – and even a BV choir, which elevates the Foy Vance-featuring standout closer, Temporary Tears – there’s a song for every occasion and mood on here. Hearing Vance’s voice alongside Rinehart’s is like a thrilling battle round, during which healthy rivalry fuelled them to nail new PBs within their individual vocal performances.  

In part one of NEEDTOBREATHE’s two-part making of doco, A World Without A Mirror: The Making Of CAVES, a voiceover describes the magic they captured through working collaboratively IRL: “Something happens in real time where one idea leads to another and another, and before you know it we’ve created something, and we’re looking around and we’re like, ‘Wow, this just took shape and none of us had that in mind’.” 

The band began this record’s writing and demoing process collectively in Utah and have said that beholding the majestic, snow-capped mountains surrounding the place they holed up in inspired them to create work that would match the spectacular views from their windows. Songwriting then continued while the band toured with OneRepublic last year until Caves was finally completed at Pachyderm Studios in Minnesota (where Nirvana’s In Utero took shape).   

Powerful, angsty, rockin’ opener The Cave – with its cheeky banjo, blazing mosh-inciting rock riffs and pummelling drums – was surprisingly written in a hotel room on just an acoustic guitar and midi keyboard, according to keyboardist Josh Lovelace. And vivid lyrical imagery prevails: “But you still see me crawling hands and knees / Coming out/ Through the mouth/ Of the cave…” 

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

By song three, How Wonderful We Are, NEEDTOBREATHE veer into heartfelt piano ballad territory: “The hole inside my heart is a place where you fit in…” Then Dreams (feat. Judah & The Lion) gets the party started. Wasting Time (feat. Old Dominion) is a bop (“How many hallelujahs will it take for you to get in line?”) that was written for a specific purpose: NEEDTOBREATHE wanted to create “a fun rock song” that would be exciting to play live.

The Carly Pearce-featuring, piano-driven Fall On Me – resplendent with quivering strings – is perfect for waving those smartphone torches aloft: “You will always be/ The one that I can call/ The safest place to fall/ For me/ When I can’t stand.” 

During Hideaway, which “encourages resiliency through the hard times”, Rinehart’s voice is so husky and utterly broken. And as for that swoon-worthy octave leap? Now he’s just showing off. By And By, a barnstormer complete with clap-happy breakdown and sublime harmonies, just begs for a good ol’ fashioned dosey-doe. Here, Rinehart sounds gritty, like he’s been raised on a diet of darts and whiskey (highly unlikely).

Following the departure of Rinehart’s bro Bo in 2020, NEEDTOBREATHE have seized the opportunity to explore an ambitious new musical identity. Caves – a collection of instantly catchy, life-affirming songs for marking pivotal life events – sees the band embracing infinite possibilities and emerging with renewed vision. They’ve previously been described as “the Southern equivalent of U2,” and Bear Rinehart goes so far as to say that NEEDTOBREATHE’s latest set “feels like a Joshua Tree for us”. 

NEEDTOBREATHE’s new album, Caves, will be released via Drive All Night Records on Friday, 15 September. Pre-order/pre-save the album here.