One week ago Needtobreathe released their fourth studio album,The Reckoning. While it is built on their well-established signature sound, the new set showcases Needtobreathe’s refusal to rest on their laurels. Utilizing haunting horns and beautiful bagpipes, as well as lending more prominence to the banjo and mandolin, The Reckoning finds Needtobreathe at their musical best. Bear Rinehart’s lead vocals and the backing vocals of the rest of the band are as evocative as ever, the perfect means of delivering the thoughtful and poetic, if at times enigmatic, lyrics of this new batch of songs.
If it weren’t for Switchfoot’s new album, Vice Verses, which released today, I’d still be listening to The Reckoning. As it is, however, Switchfoot has taken over my office speakers today. A first run through the album is not enough to make a final judgment, but I think it’s safe to say Vice Verses may well vault itself into the good company of my favorite Switchfoot albums, The Beautiful Letdown and Oh! Gravity. While the lyrics don’t necessarily venture into any altogether new territory, they continue to facilitate wrestling with some of the deep questions of life, without being redundant or coming off as pedantic. Finally, as if the album isn’t worth purchasing on its own, the deluxe version features live cuts of the entire Hello Hurricane album.