Jamie and The Guarded Heart is a duo from Philadelphia that was born when Morgan Russo suggested to vocalist Jamie Salvatore, “Why don’t you start a project where you just play your songs and you really give it a go? Something real, something you believe in.” After a decade of playing cover songs in bars, Salvatore was ready to accept the challenge on one condition. He responded, “I’ll do it, but only if you do it with me.” It’s a good thing for fans that the challenge was issued and accepted.
Like a lot of recent albums, the band’s new album Funeral Song was started during the isolation due to COVID-19. Of the album, Russo said, “Making this record was emotional. We were so proud of these songs and attached to them, and we felt like this was our child and our chance to put something meaningful out into the world.” It’s safe to say that the band accomplished that particular mission.
When you hear the beginning of the first track “Black Dresses”, you immediately notice the similarity to Jason Isbell both in the vocals and in the melody which is both gritty and intricate. On the one hand, you have the imagery of “smoke in the American Legion Hall” while on the other hand, you hear layers of sound that would fit right into a Bruce Springsteen song.
There is also some similarity to Two Cow Garage in these songs. Some of that is in the sound. Like Micah Schnabel, Salvatore has raspy vocals and has a way of painting pictures with his words. However, the larger similarity is in the urgency in these songs. Like Two Cow Garage, this band has a way of writing songs that sound like their lives depend on it., like they have these ideas and these melodies and they’ll just burst if they don’t get them out into the world.
“Keep Fighting” is a good example of the urgency on this album. It is an energetic, uptempo song that creates the mood with the opening lines, “We grew up living drums and guitars and the thought someday that maybe we’d be stars. We both know we’re running out of time.” This song could be an anthem for every independent musician, but also for anyone who realizes it’s never too late to pursue your dream.
“I Don’t Love You” is a catchy rock and roll song. Right away, you hear the guitar riff that brings The Romantics to mind. That is backed by a prominent organ part and a rhythm that is sure to get you moving. The chorus is anthemic, especially for anyone in a relationship that has perhaps passed its expiration date. It’s hard not to sing along when he sings, “I don’t love you the way that I used to, and I don’t play these games no more.”
This album shows that Salvatore and Russo not only have the ability to create a catchy melody but also to tell a story that is easily relatable. It’s the kind of album that gets you to sing along loudly because you feel every word. Funeral Song will be available everywhere on April 29. Order your copy here and find out more about Jamie and the Guarded Heart: http://www.jamieandtheguardedheart.com