June 23rd, 2010
On first listen to The Head and the Heart‘s self-titled LP, you would never guess that this is their first release. You’d be more apt to think that the songs were old favorites that have somehow drifted out of mind. They teeter somewhere between newness and familiarity and given a few listens they easily nestle themselves into your waking thoughts repeating warm and comforting lyrics over and over.
The Head and the Heart are a 6 piece ensemble composed of transplants all living here in Seattle. Their album contains 9 fully realized arrangements with amazingly rich production. I was literally stunned by the quality of the recordings. Describing the sound must begin with the dancing Beetles-inspired piano that leads the way into most every song followed by textured harmonies of voice and violin weaving through the open spaces like Boston ivy, all backed by solid but subtle rhythm and a guitar that might drip with twang as in “Couer D’Alane” or jangle along as in “Sounds like Hallelujah”. The whole package is bundled tight and under the shadow of the recent folk-revival movement it could be classified as such but I’d be more inclined to place it in a broader space of “Timeless Americana”. (even WITH the Beatles’ influence)
The band rotates the lead vocals between songs and within individual songs giving the album a feeling of progression that unfolds like a movie script, developing all the different characters you’ll eventually fall in love with. The lyrics are heartfelt and original and yet, by the simple act of exposing their roots, they seem instantly familiar. “Down in the Valley” touches on this with what I take as references to well-known songs of Americana found in the refrain:
“Down in the Valley
with Whiskey Rivers
these are the places you will find me hiding.
These are the places I will always go.”
And as they go, they take you happily along.
Live performances from The Head and the Heart are rumored to be dancing, stomping, clapping affairs, rousing the normally silent and pensive listeners into motion. To find out for yourselves, check out their CD release party happening this Friday at the Conor Byrne in Ballard. I’ll be surprised if folks don’t make their way up onto the pool tables and bar in order to get their groove on. At the very least, you’re promised to “remember” how much you love The Head and the Heart.
The Head and the Heart CD Release
Friday, June 25th 9:00
Conor Byrne – Ballard Ave
Have a listen to the first 3 tracks of what Head and the Heart’s new LP has in store! I cannot recommend picking up the full album enough.
(Songs had been removed, so here’s one to tide you over!)
Lost in My Mind
For fans of Andrew Bird, Avette Brothers, early Gomez and good fucking American music.
(yeah, I know there are a lot of British references in here for an “Americana” band review.. but aren’t we all just rebellious Brits at the end of the day? Toodaloo!)