The Head and the Heart, a band whose journey to the top of the charts proves, even in a world where most people discover music online, hard work can still launch bands. The Head and the Heart signed with Sub Pop Records and, following in the footsteps of many of their pacific northwest predecessors, have been working a long time to see results. Before signing with Sub Pop, their debut album was self produced and sold by the band at concerts and a few local record stores.
The album begins with the feel good short “Cats and Dogs,” which benefits from understated vocal harmonies and pronounced rhythms. The album begins well, but the band chooses to follow it with “Couer d’Alene,” a song that brings unoriginality to the listener. Purposefully allowing the songs to meld together develops a wall of good, but bland songs. The variety of music in the album is increased when “Ghosts” kicks the beat up, while “Down in the Valley” reminds listeners of rainy and cold days in the spring. The album climaxes with “Rivers and Roads” which features a gripping duet between frontman Josiah Johnson and violinist Charity Thielen. Though the first half of the album is a bit slow, the band really hits their stride in the second half of the album with drummer Tyler Williams crashing lively during “Honey Come Home” and “Winter Song.” The album closes out with “Heaven Go Easy on Me,” though not the best song on the album, it makes for a good closing piece.
The album is actually quite good, but the history of the band overplays the originality of their songs. The Head and the Heart, while writing their own music, instead relied heavily on other northwest pacific folk bands for inspiration. This results in an album that holds very few surprises. The band’s heartwarming story has allowed them to receive a recording label. However, with what they have produced thus far, they should be able to easily set themselves apart from their influences with their sophomore attempt at future albums.