Saturday, January 28, 2012

Great Album: The Head and the Heart



The Head and the Heart

So many decisions in life and in the music we love can come down to a critical tug between the logic in our heads and the hot red blood beating through our hearts. Seattle's The Head and the Heart live authentically in that crux, finding joy and beauty wedged there. Their music pulses effervescently both explosively danceable and intuitively intelligent. With Americana roots and strong vocal harmonics that swell like a river, this band finds its anchor in solid songwriting that has even the jaded humming along by the second listen.

Let me admit upfront that I had not heard this band until I heard their CD played at my local indie record store here in Temeculah. I was really impressed with the quality of the tracks I heard then, and so I bought the CD. Am I glad I did! The Head and the Heart hail from Seattle, where in 2010 they self-released this debut album. Based on the strong buzz that followed the band shortly thereafter, the album was re-released on the Sub Pop lable in early 2011 (with one new track "River and Roads").

"The Head and the Heart" (10 tracks; 40 min.) finds it roots in folk and Americana, and as such shines. From the opener "Cats and Dogs" the album feels like an old friend that you have come to (re)appreciate. Singers/songwriters Jossiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell are the focal point of the band, with rich and warm voices. They are aptly supported by 4 more band members (bass; piano; violin; and drums). "Down in the Valley" is a pensive tune immediately that reminded me of Ryan Adams "Heartbreaker"-era, and he probably wishes he could write a song like "Down in the Valley" nowadays. "River and Roads" is another dramatic tune, done beautifully. "Honey Come Home" is another favorite track of mine on here, with great lyrics like "I think of all this time we've wasted with our fighting and I cry/I just wanna die with the one I love beside me", wow. "Sounds Like Hallelujah" is one of the more exuberant songs on here. The closer is "Heaven Go Easy On Me", and as the title implies, a perfect way to round out the album.

In all, this is a strong debut album, and at a crisp 40 min., you'll find yourself playing this again and again. I had the opportunity to catch these guys live this past weekend, and they put on a great set, bringing most of the albums's tracks. I think they are probably just living out of a suitcase as I just read they'll be back here again for another show in August. Meanwhile, "The Head and the Heart" is highly recommended!

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