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European edition, Sunday, September 2, 2007

With a jammed-together name like Needtobreathe, you might expect guys who frantically rush through life without time to inhale, let alone reflect. You’d be wrong.

In their sophomore album, “The Heat,” the South Carolina rockers take plenty of time to observe, feel and reflect. Along the way, rich instrumentals combine with Bear Rinehart’s slightly raspy vocals to create a very appealing look at relationships among people and with God.

The disc opens with “Spare the Time,” a brief acoustic invitation to listen. It reels you in, just before “Restless” grabs you with an energetic look at things we do “just to chase the pain away.”

“The Heat” delves into spiritual matters a bit more than last year’s debut disc, “Daylight.” For example, the title track encourages listeners to put aside the concerns of life and submerge themselves in worship. The triumphant “Streets of Gold” describes the death of a loved one who’s looking forward to heaven. The disc’s first radio single is “Signature of Divine (Yahweh),” which opens softly with musings about the inability of human art to capture the nature of God.

It then soars into powerful praise. It’s a satisfying song that already has climbed to No. 5 on R&R’s Christian radio charts.

With an assist from an organ and the Set Free Christian Fellowship’s choir, “Washed by the Water” delivers an old-time gospel vibe as it recalls the struggles Rinehart’s father faced as a pastor. It’s a moving testimony to standing “even if the Earth crumbles under my feet.”

Many of the disc’s 14 tracks focus on relationships, often at a slower tempo — but with the same passion. “Again” is a dreamy falling-out-of-love song that does an excellent job backing out of the dewy-eyed metaphors that fill standard love songs. The heartfelt “Return” is a plea to mend a failing relationship.

The disc also examines the frustrations of the recording business in “More Time.” However, the song actually makes a great statement about maintaining devotion to a purpose despite difficulties.

It’s the sort of devotion that pays off in “The Heat.” On the Web:

Audio AdrenalineAudio Adrenaline was at the top of its form — landing Grammy and Dove awards — when Mark Stuart announced early last year that more than a decade of throaty singing had damaged his vocal chords. A few months later, the band released “Adios: The Greatest Hits.”

However, the band continued touring until this spring, when it landed in Hawaii for its final show, which was recorded for a CD/DVD set.

“Live from Hawaii: The Farewell Concert” delivers the band’s biggest hits. They range from “Ocean Floor,” which explores God’s forgiveness, to “Big House,” which has become a standard in youth — and even children’s — ministries.

During “Hands and Feet,” Stuart mentions it will probably be the last time he sings the band’s assertive call to join God in his work. The song highlights precisely how weak Stuart’s voice has become.

The disc and DVD set will interest fans — who are a legion — but those looking for a good introduction to the band’s music would be best served by checking out last year’s “Adios.” On the Web:

Today’s Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry.


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