Heather Bond – The Mess We Created
Nashville-based eclectic singer-songwriter Heather Bond (piano) writes decisively about love, seduction, heartbreak, nostalgia, & politics. Following in a tradition of piano-driven artists such as Norah Jones & the jazzy-inspired showcase of Fiona Apple.
Her sophomore LP The Mess We Created (Drops Feb 25–Independent) provides 10-cuts produced by musician Viktor Krauss (brother of bluegrass great Alison). Viktor’s played with Lyle Lovett, dobro legend Jerry Douglas, guitarist Bill Frisell & Beth Nielsen Chapman.
Krauss co-wrote the original songs with Heather & played upright bass/bass/guitars/keys/electronic drums/cello. Bond has a gentle whispery voice on “The Mirage,” & the song is laid down with a solid jazzy-easy listening foundation. She skims the melodic-vocalese styles of Sade, & the early work of Julie London (her cover of “The End of the World,” comes to mind). Bond doesn’t get as laid-back smokey as some of the vintage vocalists of this genre, but she has the atmosphere in her vocal.
“Fountain of Youth,” is a pleasant middle-of-the-road theme since Heather doesn’t over-emote on the tune. She maintains a beautiful level of tonality. Well-served as a late-night song on an FM radio. You can’t accuse Bond of drama in her songs since she produces her material instinctually & with care.
Now, Bond is not Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt, or Barbra Streisand – but that aside she does possess a quality those great female vocalists don’t. The controlled cognac-tasting low gear with an emotional, imaginative layer of music by a chanteuse that sounds like she’s had decades of experience. A little more brawn at times may benefit her phrasing & provide more latitude. But that will come with time, & the right song.
Krauss adds the elegance of a nice bottom with his bass throughout. This prevents Bond’s songs from sounding too flakey & low-brow. Even James Taylor has fallen victim to this. Heather’s repertoire seldom gets beyond showboating, but she does have bold strokes in her performance. “Ich Weiss Nicht,” (“I Do Not Know”) has lift, the bass, solid, drums snap, & Heather sings in a wispy manner with toy piano notes pounding. That’s creativity.
For the most part, Heather Bond has an elite modern sound. Fortunately, her material has melody. Many singers today sing with great winey pipes but say nothing, there’s no construction between the lyric & melody. I can’t even hum anything. But Bond has structure, significance & lots of style (Led Zeppelin’s “All My Love”).
“Feel It,” is a get-down funky cut. Heather lets her hair down on her most commercial, mainstream tune on the LP. If Heather was part of your household, her voice would be your biggest feather pillow at the end of a long, hard day.
Texas-born & Kentucky-raised Bond’s band with Viktor, Maeve Gilchrist (harp), Adam Bokesch (drums), Jano Rix (drums from The Wood Brothers), Matt Nelson (cello), Matt Chamberlain (drums – played with Tori Amos), & Jason Eskridge (background vocals).
Color image: Meg Sagi. The 40-minute CD: available @ https://heatherbond.bandcamp.com/album/the-mess-we-created + https://www.heatherbondmusic.com/