For a band that once played in my high school’s film class, The Head and the Heart certainly has hit the big time — big time for indie folk music that is.
With their second album, Let’s Be Still, The Head and The Heart strays far away from the typical dilemma of the “sophomore slump” with an album that’s as easy on the ears as George Clooney is on the eyes.
Let’s Be Still is an impressive evolution from their first self-titled album. The laidback folk sound is still there, but with a more polished studio edge. With a genre that’s seen enormous growth in recent years, led by chart-topping Mumford & Sons, The Head and the Heart differentiates itself with beautiful musicality and well-orchestrated instrumentals.
“Homecoming Heroes” is an account of soldiers returning home after war and dealing with the community and media: “So now I know / People want a story / Want an end with glory / And a wave of their flag / Well as far as I can tell / The homecoming heroes / Get put in the headlines / And back off they go.” The song deals with the support soldiers get back home and their near celebrity status, despite having to serve another tour. It’s a unique take on soldiers returning home, with a rock solid melody.
“Another Story” exemplifies The Head and the Heart’s gorgeous understanding of music. It’s a prime example of how The Head and the Hearts relies on nostalgia: “I’ll tell you one thing / We ain’t gonna change love? / The sun still rises? / Even through the rain.” It’s beautiful to listen to, and anyone with ears will enjoy the music. But it doesn’t have lyrics that steal the show.
The album’s titular song is gorgeous, filled with stunning instrumentation. The success of The Head and The Heart lies in their unequalled ability to evoke nostalgic feelings: “The worlds just spinning / A little too fast / If things don’t slow down soon we might not last / So just for the moment, let’s be still.” The lyrics aren’t life changing, but it’s a good reminder to calm the fuck down in a week where midterms are making most college students want to rip their hair out.
The best song on the album is “Josh McBride.” Though each song on this album is successful in terms of musicality, this song feels truly deep in meaning. Also, the harmonies are on point. This song has well-written lyrics that tell a story, though the story is clearly so personal that only the singer understands it: “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.”
“Shake” also features underwhelming lyrics: “And the memories we made / Will never be lost, no / And the look on your face/ We both knew the cost.” Does this inspire a feeling of connectedness? Absolutely. Is it on the same par of lyrics written by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, a band in the same genre? No way.
The Head and the Heart succeed because they have a superb understanding of instrumentals and create easygoing, beautiful folk music. It’d be hard to find a person who couldn’t appreciate the glories of Let’s Be Still, but this album could have been improved upon with lyrics that didn’t come directly from the rhyming dictionary.
4 out of 5 stars