Well-established as American heroes of indie folk, and having garnered an impressive following on three albums and multiple performances on high-profile American TV shows, The Head and The Heart have exploited the distance of the pandemic , channeling it in their latest release ‘Every Shade of Blue’.
The album sports cinematic prowess through an ambitious arrangement and high-end anthemic production, with the new material spanning sixteen tracks in total. With its warm orchestral introduction, the opening title track carries a dramatic, eerie beauty that sinks into a pulsating country beat, a cinematic soundtrack of a modern western, swimming in copious reverb.
The album’s sound follows suit, with tracks awash in reverb and often opening with thoughtful string arrangements, most notably in the country haze of ‘Paradigm’, the dramatic finale to ‘Don’t Show Your Weakness. ‘ and the soaring harmonic confidence of ‘Love We Make’.
While this reverberating space helps establish the sonic world of the album, at times it seems to clash with an overabundance of sonic elements. Tracks like “Virginia (Wind In The Night),” a seemingly gentrified country anthem that perhaps ironically represents its subject matter, and the explosive pop ballad “Tiebreaker” represent a general overproduction on all levels that often buries lyrical intent. .
Because of this, the most thoughtful and minimally arranged inclusions on the record are where the band really shines, from the soft falsetto and poignant optimism of “Same Hurt” to the refreshing vocal delivery of the heart on the sleeve and to the lyrical humanity of “Love Me”. Still’.
His runtime is of course an impressive feat that nods to the band’s prolificism, but it’s perhaps unclear if all the inclusions were necessary for the record. The faux-prophetic “what if” of “Shut Up” comes across as a banal and ultimately pointless attempt to inject meaningful position into the music, and while “Family Man” aims to resonate with its subject matter, the composition feels overly composed. – to establish a connection.
It’s plain to see the successes of The Head and The Heart winning the hearts and minds of mainstream indie folk audiences in the United States, and though elements of ‘Every Shade of Blue’ may struggle to diminish its value an overambitious production, the album is bound to translate well to the big stage despite everything. And with a North American tour to follow, including a sold-out show at Red Rocks Amphitheater, American audiences have a lot to look forward to.
Words: Kieran Macdonald-Brown
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