In a landscape where live performances have essentially been halted due to the detrimental effects of COVID-19, Andrew McConathy & The Drunken Hearts have released their very first live album, which was recorded in the fall of 2019, allowing audiences to immerse themselves in the ethereal experience of live performance that we have all been missing. The five-piece Colorado band has continued to evolve since their inception, and the fourteen-track live album Alive N’ Free forever encapsulates the sound and presence of a band in their element, as well as the multifaceted nuances that go into a live music show. Produced by Todd Divel and Andrew McConathy, the album was recorded by sound engineer Taylor Hines and mixed and mastered by Divel at Silo Studio in 2020.
The album kicks off with a previously unreleased track, “Tell Me,” which completely immerses the listener into the record with an incendiary exhibition of what the rest of the album has in store. Following up the inaugural track is a song titled “Don’t Go,” which was originally recorded for The Drunken Hearts’ 2012 album, Live For Today. The new recordings of the familiar songs that appear on Alive N’ Free feel just as fresh as ever, with the live element actually capturing a more multifaceted interpretation and cutting straight into the essence of these songs that are are continually evolving as part of Andrew McConathy’s being. Not only does McConathy share pieces of himself with the songs that appear on this album, but he also shares personal anecdotes along the way, which typically would only be heard during a live performance.
One of the anecdotes comes early on in the form of the “Van Story.” Dropping the album’s namesake in his narration, McConathy relays how sometimes being alive and free comes with having the capacity to be able to shrug off the bumps in life’s road, just as he and the band had to do when their van broke down on the way to their current gig from Colorado. The van story is a perfect segue into the song, “Happy,” where McConathy declares that he hopes he gets to where he’s going while maintaining his happiness – a perfect correlation to arriving at his destination amidst obstacles in order to do what he loves to do.
Of the many highlights on the album, one that stands out to me is the song “Run it All Together,” which was originally recorded and released on their 2019 album, Wheels of the City. The song meticulously blends rock and roll with a driving country twang that works extremely well, and demonstrates the band’s ability to easily navigate the complex facets of Americana music. McConathy’s voice is comparable to a countryfied Eddie Vedder and his lyrics so expressively establish a sense of location, allowing audiences to be transplanted into the rhythmic flow of the spaces that he creates with his songs. The album also features a cover of Robin Davis’ “Prom Night,” a welcome addition to McConathy’s repertoire.
The Drunken Hearts is comprised of Andrew McConathy on acoustic guitar and vocals, Kory Montgomery on electric guitar and vocals, Jon McCartan on bass, and Cody Russell on pedal steel, lap steel, and dobro. You can listen to Alive ‘N Free wherever you stream your digital music.
The Drunken Hearts – Alive ‘N Free (2021)
- Tell Me
- Don’t Go
- Van Story
- Fire in a House
- Run it all Together
- In the Middle
- Shining Eyes
- Wheels of the City
- Black Snake
- Want You Back
- Prom Night
- Broken Things
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