Two things have always been true: 1) the head and the heart don’t always agree, and 2) when this happens, you can write some damn good folk songs. Last night, Seattle’s The Head and the Heart proved these truths once again.The band’s rousing choruses, 3-part harmonies, and the acoustic guitar at the heart of every song gladly screamed a down-home Northwest aesthetic — sitting around with friends drinking beer on the porch, lamenting a lost love, then saying “f*** it all” and whipping out a guitar.
Judging from the enthusiastic singalongs ["mostly in key," as violinist/vocalist Charity Rose Thielen so gleefully put it], the 6-piece folk outfit’s self-titled debut has been the soundtrack to a ton of lengthy Muni rides all winter long. Co-frontmen Jonathan Russell and Josiah Johnson took turns at lead vocals, shakers and tambourines, and their distinctly gravelly/world-weary and smoother voices helped set each song apart. Thielen sang mostly backup vocals and harmonies, but when she did take the lead it sounded like Regina Spektor had somehow materialized onstage, and the crowd cheered her on.
The band played through the songs from their debut and each one was filled with some crazy kind of hope for the future, broken hearts and drunken mistakes be damned. There was an obvious polish to their set that was pretty impressive, considering their rather recent rise to popularity. But even so they never lost the innate catharsis of singing and playing through their troubles.
The set ended with a stunning version of “Rivers and Roads,” a song about distance and being far away from friends and family.
These guys better get used to it — there’s clearly a lot more in store for them.
Tags: Bottom of the Hill, Live Review, The Head and the Heart