In 2019 Bear Rinehart, front man for the Grammy-nominated band Needtobreathe, released Wilder Woods as his first solo project. For the more than two decades Rinehart fronted Needtobreathe he felt like he wanted to stretch the envelope by giving himself the freedom to explore other things he wants to do or say. “I’ve been in a band for 20-years, and a band is a democracy where you make decisions together,” explains Rinehart. “I’ve stopped worrying so much about imaging. This isn’t the kind of journey where I’m worried about the places I’m headed or the places I’ve left; it’s a journey where I’m just happy to be in the car driving forward.”
For the first time Rinehart surrounded himself with writing collaborators including producer Cason Cooley and guitarist Tyler Burkum. “I’d already made some little demos – short ideas involving a song’s verse and chorus – and I wanted to flesh them out fully with writers I trusted,” he says. “I don’t think I could’ve made the record without a team, nor would I have wanted to.” Working with Cooley and Burkum, Rinehart began turning his homemade demos into songs for the album he wanted to make.
The music on Fever/Sky is inspired by changes in the artist’s life, like becoming a father, singing to his wife during “Maestro (Tears Don’t Lie),” which is a festival-ready rocker that charts the early days of the couple’s relationship. “Heartland” gives a nod to Rinehart’s southern roots, using Gospel harmonies against a backdrop of B3 organ and electric guitar. “Be The Man,” sounds like a long-lost soundtrack to a ’70s movie. In “Make Your Own Mistakes” Rinehart seeks to prepare his sons for their own journeys, and even dedicated this album to his youngest son, Waters.
Rinehart Fever/Sky composed while waiting for the COVID pandemic to end at his Nashville home, fusing his personal lyrics with musical textures inspired by his previous decades of touring. With Needtobreathe continuing to tour and record, Rinehart’s schedule is back to pre-pandemic levels. But Wilder Woods continues to thrive, in many ways it’s become one of the cornerstones of his career. “Wilder Woods is a passion project,” he says. “That’s the way it has to be. You have to love doing something like this – and learn from it too – in order to keep doing it.”
At radio support is pouring in from Triple A, including WXRV, SoCal Sound, Lightning 100, Colorado Sound, WMMM and KRVB.
Photo by Darius Fitzgerald