The Seattle buzz band arrived on the tail-end of a West Coast tour that’s seen them get rapturous responses from critics and fans packing the clubs, and Wednesday’s show was a good indication why. Soaring vocal harmonies, plenty of insistent hooks and an undeniable energy emanating from the stage combined to make this one of the more joyful shows I’ve seen in a spell. In many ways, it reminded me of the first time I saw the New Pornographers, with the songs rooted in Americana rather than power-pop.
Much of the appeal of The Head and The Heart is due to the intertwined voices of primary singers/songwriters/guitarists Josiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell, along with violinist Charity Rose Thielen. Besides the stunning harmonizing, the boy-girl back-and-forth on some songs gives The Head and The Heart a dimension many of their young roots-rock peers lack.
Several of the band’s songs Wednesday had me ready to jump on The Head and The Heart bandwagon for the long haul. “Ghosts” was an early highlight, full of poppy “du-du-dus” and “ba-da-das.” “Honey Come Home” is a wrenching begging for forgiveness wrapped in a jaunty pop tune, with great lines like “And I think of all this time/That we’ve wasted with all our fighting/And I cry/Just wanna die with the one I love/Beside me.”
Among the other tunes that hit their mark Wednesday: the languid “Heaven Go Easy on Me,” the acoustic-driven ballad “Winter Song,” the sprawling “Down in the Valley” and sparse vocal showcase “Rivers and Roads.”
The Head and The Heart’s set was just 11 songs, plus one encore tune, but it was definitely satisfying. I’d encourage anyone with an ear for excellent harmonies and a touch of twang to give them a listen before they come through town again this June, opening for Iron & Wine.