Heartless Bastards – A Beautiful Life
Sweet Unknown Records / Thirty Tigers – September 10, 2021
Led by Erika Wennerstrom, who sometimes sounds like a less raspy Lucinda Williams, despite making her solo debut in 2019, this is Cincinnatis Heartless bastards‘First album in six years. The line-up includes Okkervil River guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo, drummer Greggory Clifford of White Denim, midlake multi-instrumentalist Jesse Chandler, My Morning Jackets keyboardist Bo Koster, intermittent Patty Griffin guitarist David Pulkingham and longtime bassist Jesse Ebaugh.
It's an eclectic affair that encompasses everything from French pop and Celtic folk to Disney scores and post-punk, and begins with the six-minute, initially barren acoustically but gradually building up blues revolution. The song is a social commentary in times of change, of a “filled with hope” instead of fear with its fake news and everyone “Constantly advertised, your life commercialized and disguised / Like happiness in pills and potions, fancy threads and cars in motion / Hypnotized by gold-plated Lies to fill the pockets of so few.
The call for unity to tackle the world's problems ("People can come together and help each other / The temperature is rising / Oh, the world is full of greed") can be found in the rockier pop inflections of How Low, the. recurring musical motif reminiscent of Cast Your Fate To The Wind when she asks "How low will you go to get up?") before the clanking piano sets the stage for the drumbeats and descending chords of Disney style When I. educates War Younger to regain that optimism and innocence ("My heart sings to fix the strings my mind has awakened").
That new dawn and the beginning of the self-liberation idea can also be heard on the twang-like guitar and pizzicato strings that exude the potential romance of the 60s flavor to your eyes ") while that was similarly themed (" like a newborn baby / I'll start again / And I open my arms wide and I don't hold tight / Free to be beautiful and strong ”) dreamy soulful A Beautiful Life basks in the SoCal sun while being a mix of Richard Carpenter and Marvin Tap into Gaye.
With contributions from Andrew Bird on violin and the Persian Setar virtuoso Fared Shafinury, the latter anchoring the long intro and outro, The River follows the same trend ("You have to let go to be free / I had to break loose / I had to break" free / And just go with the flow ") in a correspondingly extensive manner.
With Photograph it gets louder, shriller and rockier, but you never lose the meaning of a catchy melodic hook (it's like Jefferson Airplane and The Bangles have a love child), the call-to-action lyrics that convey the feelings of the album- Openers ("Let's build an army and fight fear with love"), then calm down again to the acoustic shimmer of the introspective slow swaying Dust ("I slept deep under the willow / It's time to wake up. It's almost morning / I realize that I don't know anything at all / Oh my world, it was so small / I'm just a small speck of dust under it all "), which once again waves the flag of universality (" we are one / we all go one way, which is unknown / We all just flow from the same old stream ”).
A syncopated drum pattern, occasional icy piano flourishes and orchestral string flourishes underpin Went Around The World, which feels like a slow intoxicant Blondie Shuffle, the album ends with more shuffle & # 39; n & # 39; Sway 70's Dream Pop in Does & # 39; t Matter Now ("If you can't do it at first try again / You just gotta let love in, let love in") with flute and clarinet and finally, presumably no reference to Rodin , pensive, long, concluding cosmic ambience track The Thinker Gathering Love is all you need through the line and (with Phoenix in both geographic and metaphorical senses) on the subject of reawakening and rebirth ("Me I walked for days and shed my skin ”) while she sings“ The only thing I want to master is myself ”and the wisdom“ Don't worry about material things / In the end they don't work ”.
It may be a thematic throwback to the heady hippie days of the summer of love, but that doesn't undermine its message or its melodies, a reminder that it's a beautiful life that deserves to be lived and celebrated.