The Reckoning

For me, one test of a great album is that I love it more with every listen. By that standard, The Reckoning is a great album.

Jake and I have hungered for a new release from NeedToBreathe for a very long time. But, I must admit, I was nervous. What if it didn’t measure up? What if I didn’t love it as much as The Outsiders? What if they had used up all their creativity?

No worries. The first track, Oohs and Ahhs, dispelled all my fears. First there were the wailing guitar riffs, then the false ending that built into a free for all with screaming horns–the last thing I expected, but perfect–and I knew this was going to be a great ride.

I would say that, over all, their rockabilly style has gotten a bit more aggressive on this effort. It’s a good fit.

In a measure of unusual restraint, I tell you about only my very favorites here, though there is not a throw-away on the album.

White Fences  An anthem, the sort of which NeedToBreathe does so well. I like singing along with it at the top of my lungs. I like remembering what it was like to sing along with them at the Ryman, with others, also singing at the top of their lungs. The sort of intimate experience that makes you feel like you know them. Even if you don’t. I don’t.

A Place Only You Can Go  I kept waiting for the ballad. Oh, yes, there is a ballad. Torturous. True. The instrumentation alone would wrest tears from me, were not the lyrics already so poignant. Perhaps you must have led my schizophrenic  life to hear an Irish lament fused with a campmeeting song from the gut here. But, you would have to be dead to not feel something.

Slumber  A driving call to stop living someone else’s regurgitated, tired old life and “open up your eyes”.

Days they force you
Back under those covers
Lazy mornings they multiply
But glory’s waiting
Outside your window
So wake on up from your slumber
And open up your eyes…

Able  The dobro and piano provide the evocative lament. Even though I am strong, I am not enough on my own. I recognize this torturous confession. I know it intimately. I also know the joy to be found in surrendering my striving to be enough. And this song finds that as well. A choir  joins the swell of the instruments as we open our hands and let grace be enough. Thanks be to God!

Keep Your Eyes Open  If you know me, you know this is my credo. I could find no better theme song.

Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You’ll never make it to the great unknown
So you keep your eyes open…

Today is a good day for lovers of intelligent, creative, ballsy music with heart. This is such.