So for the sound, upbeat folk punk? I have no idea how to classify this. The music is rock and roll, back country rock and roll at that, but the lyrics and the attitude are punk rock through and through. Love this hybrid. Each song is polished enough not to sound like a demo, but not over produced to the point where they lose the human element. That human element, paired with the lyrics are what separate this album from it’s contemporaries. The lyrics are fucking amazing, they are honest, identifiable, clever, but accessible.
Heart Songs is only 5 songs, but they are 5 songs that hold so much. The album starts with Waiting on a Sunset an upbeat track that kicks off the vibe. I am sucked in immediately. The scene is set, I am already remembering the times in my life when I felt the same way. “I’m like a tidal wave of teenage wasteland boredom / but when the record plays I swear I can break out this room”. The lyrics continue to build, “The world is burning down all around and I feel free” until they reach their crescendo and define the feeling of the rest of the EP, “I heard a punk rock singer say you can’t take that from me / These walls can’t hold me in. I’m feeling electric”. By this point, we are all feeling that restless electricity and remember what it was like to be invincible.
The second track, American Love, is slow, twangy, and dripping with sincerity. It is a song that can be labeled as Americana with it’s sound and whiskey references. “I found a sticker of a skull on the back of your heart / it wasn’t even like the rock and roll kind / it was a symbol of destruction” Yet it never loses its punk edge - the attitude the breakdowns, the foot in the gutter brings the two worlds together perfectly. It is a song about heartbreak, “I don’t know how I ever trusted / cause your heart was just bursting with lies”. As a poet, I can just cite this whole song as an example of what I wish modern poetry embodied. But, there are some lines, that man, I just wish that I would have come up with, I found a letter you had written hidden under your tongue / it wasn’t meant for my eyes to see / it was covered in the blood of all your broken hearted lovers”. Just fucking perfect.
Tear Down Every Wall starts with a great vocal section that is naked with only the sparsest chords entering and receding. It sucks you in with its intimacy. The full band does come into the track to build it up with even more power that will have you moving by the end.
Kamikaze is catchy as hell. You will be fucking singing and dancing around and the heavy drum beats will have you resisting clapping in time. Which is kinda strangely perfect for a tumultuous love song with a riot as its main metaphor. “And if you wanna be my righteous anger / I’ll be the brick in your right hand / and we can run the streets wearing black bandanas / before our glass hearts get smashed in”.
There are perfectly timed moments when the music drops out to punctuate the lyrics and passion. It lets the audience soak it in before they scream the next line along. “some loves have ever-afters / but I don’t want anything else but…” “this great disaster”.
Heart Songs ends with Exploding Heart, a slow, smooth, and passionate song. It has these great layered vocal sections that make you feel like you are intertwined and great breakdowns to heighten the emotional content of the lyrics.
The poetry on Heart Songs can stand on its own. The words are gritty and ordinary, but they become poignant because the craft is so finely honed. I love poetry that use gritty situations and conversational vocabulary to make beautiful art. Aree does that time and time again throughout this EP and accentuates it with music that will burrow inside your gut. The 90s had the spoken word poems blur into the hip hop culture, wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if there could be a rise in punk poetry, to let that be part of our cultural legacy.
From the very first listen I had visceral reaction to the heart, to the authentic voice of Heart Songs. I fell for these songs immediately because of the human element.It moves you, and isn’t that what music is supposed to do? It connects, elevates, and changes people’s lives.