Last week, The Head and the Heart released its sophomore album, “Let’s Be Still.”
“Let’s Be Still” is not a coincidental title, and is the first clue in understanding how to listen to the album, which would be to sit quietly and just listen for a while.
The Head and the Heart’s self-titled first album is comprised of 10 songs filled with surprising rhythms, moans and folky beats that one understands by feeling them throughout his or her entire body.
It is difficult not to be persuaded to dance, rock or at least tap your foot while listening to these songs.
The nature of this second offering from the Seattle-based group encourages listeners to understand it – not through joyful bouncing and singing – but through stillness and contemplation. These songs don’t want listeners to dance with them; they beg a different sort of attention, asking fans to take a little more time to listen in and understand their lyrics. This would seem to be a request from the band to be taken more seriously as thinkers and writers, as well as musicians. Comparing the band’s two albums, one can infer that the group wanted to branch out a bit from the stereotypical acoustic guitar, indie-folk sound that surrounds bands in this genre.
The band’s knack for honest lyricism and lovely harmonies has not been lost, but there is a different depth to what the band is trying to say.
Where its songs were once mainly introspective, they are now more socially charged. “Another Story” was written in response to the Sandy Hook school shootings that took place earlier this year, while “Homecoming Heroes” is commentary on U.S. soldiers coming home from war and the headlines that they have to deal with upon their return.
A wonderful surprise on this album was the greater presence held by Charity Rose Thielen, the band’s sole female member. Thielen is the band’s violinist and was used almost entirely to sing harmonies on the band’s album, save for the fantastic role she played in one of group’s most popular songs, “Rivers and Roads.” Thielen has three solo tracks on “Let’s be Still” and is featured more frequently throughout the album as a whole. This has been something I have been hoping for as Thielen’s voice is a huge asset to the group and it is wonderful to see it being treated as such.
Fans looking for the sound they recognize from The Head and the Heart’s first album will find it throughout “Let’s Be Still.” It just may take a few go-arounds of soaking it in while allowing themselves to heed the band’s advice by sitting down and being still.