Saturday, 11 January 2014

The Band of Heathens- Sunday Morning Record

The Band of Heathens are a four piece hailing from that mercurial music city Austin Texas, Sunday Morning Record is their fourth studio album and is an apt title for an album that has you looking over your shoulder at the day before. Like a lot of Americana music coming out at the moment there is a strong influence of The Band in the songs, it's a truly soulful reflective album. There is strong dynamic songwriting that underpins this album, Sunday Morning Record resonates with themes of love lost, a recurrence of time in the distance as the miles flow through the rear view mirror

Shotgun has a nice musical juxtaposition, as the song segues into the chorus a tempo change sees the song slow to a lingering waltz, with some Richard Manuel style piano offering an emotive touch to the song,

You came crashing through the window,
And it gave way so fast
All I hear now is the wind blow
Riding shotgun through the past

Caroline Williams plays like one of those classic old soul songs, the man is away from home and when he returns his love is gone, the lights in the house are dark and the note on the door says Caroline Williams don't live here anymore. What makes this song is the music, it has a simple melody and some nice soulful keys but they add little flourishes here and there, a slight tempo change here and there.

Miss My Life is defiant with some barrelhouse piano and takes me back to The Band's Rag Mama Rag from the self titled album from 1969. It's a bruised affair, "money's gone, rents due life beats us black and blue. Ain't we got nothing to show?" Girl with Indigo eyes is more beguiling, it has a CSN&Y feel to it with its more acoustic approach and close harmonies, the song lands itself firmly in the Laurel Canyon rather than the bare Texas prairie. Records in Bed has a dreamy acoustic slide opening, Ed Jurdi's vocals are allowed to float into the ether as the rhythm is pared back. Since I've Been Home is about re-connecting when you return home, it's about adjusting to being your  own. The Same Picture asks the question is this reality shared, it sees the band take an almost psychedelic approach, a very dreamy sound,

I'm thinking the same pictures of you
Are you thinking the same pictures of me
But you probably wouldn't ever tell me
What you thought of mine

One more trip acknowledges the hard road that has been forged, the recognition that we all go through hardships in life but there is a slight hint of optimism,

Set em up, knock em down
A hard one gone, got kicked around
Get back up and down again
Life's a sweet and bitter blend
Here's to good times yet to come
One more trip around the sun.

The album closes with Texas, a wistful tribute to their home state, it offers a sense that in finding freedom the ties of home will always remain, through changes of seasons and all that comes. It's a great bookend to a great album.

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