By Lindsey Lowe Osborne
“I just want something beautiful.” That’s the anthem “Something Beautiful” off of 2009’s The Outsiders by NEEDTOBREATHE. One could argue that The Outsiders, the band’s third studio album, was the one that not only catapulted NEEDTOBREATHE to success—it hit No. 2 on the Hot Christian Chart—but also the one that pushed them across genre lines, landing at No. 20 on the Billboard 200. Though their message is a spiritual one, people of all backgrounds and beliefs joined in to sing along because, after all, we all just want something beautiful.
That same year, the band toured with Taylor Swift on her Speak Now World Tour. Since then, they’ve produced three more albums, including this summer’s new release, H A R D L O V E. “My favorite part is the initial inspiration,” says Josh Lovelace, the band’s backing vocalist and keyboardist. “It’s stumbling in the dark until you find something to grab onto. People are inspiring. Places are inspiring. There are so many things in the world that can cause you to react and want to do something or be something. For me, music is like that. I’m just trying to keep myself aware of everything, hoping inspiration strikes. Going in to put that on a record can be tough, but it’s a welcome challenge. It’s fun to explore sounds and build the thing you have in your head, but I definitely like the spark the best.”
Lovelace is joined by brothers Bear (lead vocals, piano, and guitar) and Bo Rinehart (backing vocals, guitar) and Seth Bolt (backing vocals and bass). Born in South Carolina, NEEDTOBREATHE creates a sound that lands somewhere between gospel and folk, something you can’t help belt out alongside of them.
H A R D L O V E retains much of the gusto from previous albums but is a bit more polished. It does, Lovelace explains, have a different sound than much of their previous work, something that arose from the evolution of their own lives. “With H A R D L O V E, we wanted to think outside of anything we had done in the past,” he says. “With our last record, Rivers in the Wasteland, we stripped back all of the layers and created something that was somewhat more fragile in its delivery. It was raw, and it was the record we had to make at the time. Now, we are in a more vibrant phase of our lives and career, and we wanted the new music to reflect that. We are having more fun than we ever have making music together. I feel like that is a theme throughout the record. We have learned a lot over the years and are coming out on the other side hopefully wiser and more comfortable in our own skin, ready to try some new things.”
Lovelace says that while he loves the music itself, it’s watching the music he and the guys create take on a life of its own that has the biggest impact for them. “As I have gotten older, the reasons why I love music have changed some, but it always goes back to the discovery of what it could be and the potential of creating something that paints a picture for someone. I never thought about doing anything else with my life,” he says. “Everyone is living and breathing their own story, and when a song can become the sound track to a moment or experience, that’s when it becomes powerful. We’ve heard so many people tell us that this song got them through a tough time or that it means a lot to them. It is the highest compliment to hear someone tell you that the music you’re creating is making a difference. That’s what why we do it.”
If it’s just something beautiful they want, then something beautiful is what they’ve found. Sing along Sept. 22 at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater when NEEDTOBREATHE shares H A R D L O V E (plus, I’m sure, old favorites—can I hear it for “Washed by the Water”?) with T-Town and the Magic City.
10/4: Young the Giant at Iron City. For fans of Cold War Kids and Walk the Moon.
10/10: The Dandy Warhols at Saturn. For fans of OK Go and The Vines.
11/1: Johnnyswim at Iron City. For fans of the Civil Wars and Delta Rae.