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From the opening moments of The Head and The Heart, it’s apparent that the band, lead by co-vocalists Josiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell, won’t be all that obscure for long. The album opens with “Cats and Dogs”, a one-minute-and-fifty-some-seconds long track that acts as an introduction to what you’re in store for, setting you up for all of The Head and The Heart‘s best moments. The lyrics, sung with the whiskey soaked melodicism of a man that probably smokes a pack a day, have a tinge of melancholy (“My roots have grown but I don’t know where they are.”) and are a strict counterpoint to the Appalachian stomp of the band’s many musicians. When “Cats and Dogs” transitions seamlessly into “Coeur D’Alene”, you don’t notice that the song’s changed until it’s almost over. In fact, as the album progresses, you notice that it plays out less like a track-by-track release and more like a single cohesive work of art, with violinist Charity Thielen’s vocals adding an unexpected layer of gentle allure to Johnson and Russell’s harmonies, while Chris Zasche proves himself to be one of the most remarkable bassists in indie music today this side of Okkervil River’s Patrick Pestorious.
The Head and The Heart have a rootsy charm about them that would make them the perfect tourmates for modern folk superstar Josh Ritter but they maintain all the pop appeal of The Hush Sound, particularly on “Ghosts”, which is pianist Kenny Hensley shining moment on the record. “Ghosts” is a track which evokes Frontier Ruckus covering “The Boys Are Too Refined”, one of the most appealing moments from The Hush Sound’s swan song album, Goodbye Blues. It sounds odd in theory but I dare you to curb the desire to listen to it at least twice in a row. I dare you!-Mezzic
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