The Head and the Heart

REVIEW: The Head and the Heart “Every Shade of Blue”


The Head and the Heart — Every Shade of Blue

Following a traumatic experience, when every frayed nerve is scraped raw by focusing on addressing that one critical issue that dwarfs everything else, it’s all too natural to have an emotional explosion. We’re all feeling that a bit after the past two years. Seattle-based The Head And The Heart, a band that’s never kept its emotions hidden, is celebrating their return to the world with a gloriously overstuffed new album, Every Shade of Blue, pushing their indie folk sound in a new, more dynamic direction.

Between COVID and the amicable departure of co-founder Josiah Johnson, The Head And The Heart was forced to take a beat and assess what they wanted to be as a band. Rather than stay the same, or even narrow their focus, Every Shade of Blue reflects a band willing to expand and explore. Due to the pandemic, a large chunk of the record was recorded remotely, but neither cohesion nor overall ambition are lacking. The title cut introduces the bigger scope with strings and delves into the time we’ve all lost – “It’s been a long year/The wrong year/To be left alone.” “Tiebreaker” bumps up against pop territory, with lead vocalists Jonathan Russell and Charity Rose Thielen bouncing falsettos off producer Jesse Shatkin’s drum programming. And “Enemy Lines” is a big ol’ power ballad with sentiment to match – “I never lose when it comes to you, honey/I’m walking on air.”

On a record full of big emotions, the quieter moments stand out. “Taking My Time (Wrong Woman)” is Russell alone on vocals, piano and acoustic guitar, promising to put himself in a love timeout (for a musician, that sounds like…a good idea). “Same Hurt” is a downbeat plea to stick around – “I want to be some kind of heat/Don’t put me out in the cold.” And “Shadows” gives Thielen center stage, trying to maintain an important connection – “Remember the danger when we become strangers/And I know that you know that you can lean on me.”

But “big” is the key word on Every Shade of Blue, both musically and emotionally. “Don’t Show Your Weakness” is driven forward by piano and drums, looking for comfort – “We were just two lost souls trying to puzzle our way home.” And, even after two-plus years off the road, home is still key – “Virginia (Wind in the Night)” is a tribute to Russell’s native state and once-again landing spot, even if the commonwealth has changed, despite its best efforts – “Virginia don’t feel like she used to/But I can feel a heart beating for me, baby.” Change is good, but both the head and the heart are comforted by the familiar.

Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: “GTFU,” a dreamy take on separating anxiety from reality.

Every Shade of Blue was produced by Jesse Shatkin, Andrew Sarlo and John Hill and Sammy Witte. Songs were written by The Head And The Heart, along with Shatkin, Hill, Casey Smith, Nate Cyphert, Samuel Dent, Asia Whiteacre, Sarah Aarons, Sean Douglas, Colin Brittain, Stephen Wrabel, Tia Scola, Ben Berger, Ryan McMahon and Ryan Rabin. The Head And The Heart is Chris Zasche (bass guitar, electric guitar, synthesizer), Tyler Williams (drums, percussion, vocals), Jonathan Russell (vocals, Wurlitzer, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, congas, keys, piano, Dobro, percussion), Charity Rose Thielen (vocals, violin), Matthew Gervais (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin, marimba, keys, percussion, synthesizer, glockenspiel, vocals) and Kenny Hensley (piano, sax app). Other musicians on the album include Shatkin (drum programming, synthesizers, percussion, keyboards, strings programming, piano), Dent (string arranging and programming), Hill (guitar, drums, programming), Witte (synths, programming), Smith (vocals), Douglas (keyboards, vocals), Sarlo (ambient vocals, Mellotron) and Captain Cuts (programming).

Order Every Shade of Blue (out April 29) here:

Check out tour dates here:

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