The Head & The Heart’s first album received mixed reviews. I had read several blogs stating that they were yet another indie folk band in the genre’s over-saturated market. I’ll agree that there are a lot of folky bands out there right now, but I really think The Head & The Heart stands out from the crowd with their unique blend of differing song structures, organic instrumentation, and personal sentimentality. On their latest effort, Let’s Be Still, the band explores new soundscapes and themes while keeping true to their original sound.
Let’s Be Still opens with “Homecoming Heroes,” which might initially seem to contradict what I said about The Head & The Heart sticking to their original style. When I first heard the opening notes of this track, I was a little concerned that they sounded like something that could be on a Noah & The Whale record. After hearing the song unfold, though, it was clear the band was just incorporating some of the sounds of their contemporaries, while still creating an opening track that was true to their own style.
The Head & The Heart released a lyric video (filmed primarily in Los Angeles) for the album’s second track, “Another Story,” which quickly delves into the deeper side of the album. The lyrics “I hear your voice and it seems as if it was all a dream” call to loss of loved ones, whether it be through death or lost love. The words “The sun still rises even through the rain” is an acceptance of that loss and change. These lyrics really seem to touch on deep personal experiences but are vague enough to grip all audiences.
The 54-second “Springtime” serves as an intro to “Summertime.” The two tracks are Charity Rose Thielen’s time to shine. Her smooth voice soars over an initially dreamy introduction that is followed by a playful, poppy tune. She plays around with shouts that are reminiscent of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O, giving the song a slight edginess. Her solo gives the rest of the band time to explore musically, slowing down at parts and changing time signatures for the chorus.
“Shake” is the first single from the album. Its upbeat and bouncy feel represents the album’s sound well, using both male and female vocals, deep reflection, and high and low dynamics. The theme of the song? You guessed it: loss of a loved one! Though this theme is done time and time again in music, The Head & The Heart has a way of expressing it that feels very real and personal.
“Shake” has one of my two favorite lines on the album: “Even if it was a mistake, I can’t forget your face. Even if it was just a day, you won’t forget the man who’s making you shake.” Why the narrator’s counterpart is shaking remains ambiguous, and I love that the line lets listeners decide for themselves.
My other favorite line comes on the depressing and touching “Josh McBride.” The chorus rings with a harmonized “You are in the seat beside me. You are in my dreams at night. You are in Grandmother’s wisdom. You are in Grandfather’s charm.” The words are sentimental without being too cheesy, and beyond that, they touch on the idea of old souls and developed love.
My favorite song on the album is the simple, catchy, and prophetic title track “Let’s Be Still.” It is a very plain and well written reminder of our world and its progress. At the rate our culture and planet is developing and changing, it is important that we take a step back and understand where we are and just be in the moment. It is a simple and subtle message that means a lot.
Towards the album’s end, everything slows down a bit, which can be hard to handle for those with a short attention span (myself included). But the songs are solid throughout. On their last album, The Head & The Heart incorporated their name into the last track, saying “Don’t follow your head; follow your heart.” I love how they followed by reprising their name’s meaning again on “Gone,” the final track of Let’s Be Still. It is a cathartic track that builds and caps off a great album.
Sophomore albums are always the hardest for a band. They really are make or break, and The Head & The Heart nailed it. Not only does Let’s Be Still showcase the group’s growth as musicians and songwriters, it also shows that their style and sound is their own. They have the ability to touch thousands with words of wisdom and care. Let’s Be Still is surely the second installment in what will be a great career.
The Head & The Heart Tour Dates:
10.20 – Charleston, SC – Blackbaud Stadium
10.21 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel – Sold Out *+
10.22 – St. Louis, MO – The Pageant ^+
10.24 – Indiannapolis, IN – Egyptian Room +
10.25 – Chicago, IL – Riviera – Sold Out *+
10.26 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue – Sold Out *+
10.27 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue *+
10.28 – Madison, WI – Orpheum Theater *+
10.29 – Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Music Theatre *+
10.31 – Toronto, ON – The Danforth Music Hall *+
11.01 – Boston, MA – The Royale – Sold Out ^
11.02 – Boston, MA – The Royale – Sold Out ^
11.04 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club – Sold Out *+
11.05 – New York, NY – Terminal 5 ^+
11.06 – New York, NY – Webster Hall – Sold Out ^+
11.08 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer – Sold Out *+
11.09 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer – Sold Out *+
11.10 – Raleigh, NC – Ritz *+
11.12 – Atlanta, GA – The Buckhead – Sold Out *+
11.13 – New Orleans, LA – Tipitina’s *+
11.14 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live Ballroom *+
11.15 – Dallas, TX – Southside Ballroom ^+
11.16 – Austin, TX – Stubbs ^+
11.17 – Austin, TX – Stubbs ^+
12.02 – Vancouver, BC – The Commodore Ballrom – Sold Out ^
12.03 – Seattle, WA – Key Arena !
12.05 – Oakland, CA – Fox Theater^
12.07 – Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern – Sold Out ^
12.10 – Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern ^
12.12 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre ^
12.13 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre Sold Out ^
* = Thao and The Get Down Stay Down
+ = Quiet Life
# = Rose Windows & Rathborne
! = Phoenix & Vampire weekend
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