Review of The Head and The Heart

While The Head and The Heart have recently gained radio traction with ‘All We Ever Knew’ off their Signs of Light album, the folky Seattle group is one of those bands you’ll swear you’ve heard a million times.  That’s not to belittle who they are, but is more an indication of the feelings their music and lyrics invoke in the listener. They are that familiar face you can’t quite place, but makes you feel at ease; they are the comfort and warmth of your favorite, worn sweatshirt; they are a recognizable smell that invokes a pleasant memory.  Mostly, they remind you what great, storytelling music sounds like.

On this hot, stifling night, The Head and The Heart played the intimate confines of Riverbend’s PNC Pavilion.  After opening with the aforementioned, ‘All We Ever Knew,’ lead singer Jonathan Russell remarked that it was great to be back in Cincinnati despite it “being hot as sh*t.”  He quickly discarded his denim jacket revealing his sweat-soaked shirt while violinist/vocalist Charity Rose Thielan introduced their next song, ‘City of Angels,’ which she said was being renamed ‘Cincinnati Bengals’ for the evening.  Thielan also drew the biggest applauses of the evening each time her verses came up on ‘Let’s Be Still’ and ‘Winter Song.’  She thanked the crowd for the love and remarked that she “never thought a pavilion show could sound like a club show.”  The electricity in the crowd was apparently also noticed by Russell who, after concluding ‘Chasing A Ghost’ during the four-song encore, said, “you guys are making it feel like a Friday, but it’s only Monday.”

‘Another Story’ and ‘Rivers and Roads’ were the most popular songs of the evening based upon crowd response.  ‘Another Story,’ which showcases an angelic side of Russell’s voice and haunting violin chords from Thielan was written by Russell in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings of 2012 and reminds us that “the sun still rises even with the pain.” ‘Rivers and Roads’ was the last song of the evening and was the perfect ending song because it essentially reminds us that all good things come to an end.  More precisely, the crescendo of the piano being pounded by Kenny Hensley followed by the stark silence of Russell and Thielan echoing “rivers and roads, rivers and roads, rivers ‘til I reach you” are the perfect musical metaphor for the intense emotions we feel towards the things we love, and the deafening silence of the void that remains in their absence.

I would suspect that for the majority of those in attendance, there was definitely a bittersweet void that remained after having experienced The Head and The Heart.