they take away the lonely days, for now

Seattle six-piece The Head and The Heart have started the year off right by teaming up with Sub Pop Records to release their self-titled debut. Filled with beautiful vocal harmonies, lush piano, and a rich sense of Americana, The Head and The Heart is the perfect album to sink into.

The pervading feeling on The Head and The Heart is one of moving on, both physically and emotionally. Snappy percussion and piano lay the groundwork on the first track which proclaims, “my roots have grown, but I don’t know where they are.” The meandering piano and bass on “Lost In My Mind” echo the sentiment, as do the lyrics of “Ghosts”. Talking about wanting to escape from one’s hometown but seeing no one do very much to actually make the dream a reality, the song is a hearty, piano-driven jam that is a bit old-timey but doesn’t fall into the trap of caricature or parody.

While “Heaven Go Easy On Me” employs some Beatles-esque chords to build and break into serenity, “Couer d’Alene” takes the same idea of transformation but executes it a bit differently. What starts as a concession to ending a relationship finishes as a jaunty resolution to keep things going.

The Head and The Heart really strike gold, though, on the song “Down In the Valley”. Acoustic guitar and a violin that sounds like a disappearing train lead the song in, cradling the world-weary vocals. Our singer asks, “Lord, have mercy on my rough and rowdy ways,” and succinctly reveals a bit of truth with “call it one drink too many / call it pride of a man / but it don’t make no difference if you sit or you stand / ’cause they both end in trouble and start with a grin.” Then things kick in, and there’s a feeling of transcendence. We let go, and there’s clarity – an understanding so beautiful it could break your heart. Lovely vocals, a propulsive forward beat, and a piano line that calls to mind “Marching Bands of Manhattan” by fellow Washingtonians Death Cab for Cutie make for a truly excellent piece of music.

Earnest without naivety and sentimental without sappiness, let The Head and The Heart soundtrack your journeys in the upcoming year.

The Head and The Heart dropped 01.11.11.
Check out their website to get a free download of “Down In the Valley”.

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