The Drunken Hearts’ new album Wheels of the City is similar to a turquoise stone as their take of rustic Americana is familiar yet unique, but most importantly authentic. Singer Andrew McConathy dropped a bag of his songs on the table to their producer Tim Carbone (of Railroad Earth) as rough demos, just acoustic guitar, and poetry. Tim helped polish the raw form by reshaping the arrangements while guiding the instrumentation and leaving the natural deep grooves. Together they woodshedded a new song to record every day to complete the album quickly and also fully absorb the song without overthinking them.
The Drunken Hearts’ songs will pull heartstrings while making you want to dance. The album adds a warm welcome of drunken hospitality into their drunken gospel that reflects unfiltered truths and sobering wisdom. The emotions are enhanced by the tones of Cody Russell playing glowing pedal steel, dirty lap steel, and sweet dobro. Each of these instruments serves the song with either haunting or pretty elements while accenting other songs with bluesy slide leads of intensity. With this, Russell proves he’s a master of tension and release to make you yearn to experience live.
Most of the eleven songs track under 4 minutes and could easily play as singles as they are digestible for anyone who digs Americana that is about to crack into a heavy jam when played live. Some of the songs do get funky, namely the title track that includes a woodwind section and bursting into horns. The album is also laced with a string section behind a nasty slide line. The last number on the album demonstrates their roaring jam session capabilities with pure intensity.
Wheels of the City prove The Drunken Hearts intention of a drunken heart, not a drunken mind. The songs are healing both musically and lyrically. Unlike a sad whiskey shot, these are eleven tequila toasts in a row. Today, Americana much like turquoise has been devalued by fake imitations and tacky novelty stereotypes. This album is a rare and natural gem that is packed pretty but embodies its beauty through its rawness. When I hear this album, it’s hard not to visualize tequila pouring over turquoise stones. High cheers to these cats as they embark on tour once again leaving the mountains and desert but this time opening for Yonder Mountain String Band with this new amazing album.
By Nathan Emerson
Wheels of the City releases Friday, October 18 on Lo-Hi Records