ALBUM REVIEW: The Drunken Hearts' Love & Thirst
Words By Derek Miles (Miles Photography)
As of May 6th, Colorado’s very own Drunken Hearts have released a new batch of songs on an EP the band has aptly titled, Love and Thirst. The album was produced, recorded, and mixed by Rob Eaton at Immersive Studios in Boulder, CO and Silo Sound Studios in Denver, CO and mastered by David Glasser of Airshow Inc. in Boulder, CO.
Having only seen this band live a handful of times, I was eager to hear their studio sound. Andrew McConathy’s vocals and songwriting are what give this band such a distinct identity. The themes and imagery of the songs on Love and Thirst are pure, focused, and just what you would want out of a contemporary country rock band. Labels aside however, the band truly exhibits a proud command over their music while paying homage to the influences that have guided them.
The album kicks off with an upbeat track titled “Happy,” which muses upon the journey of a happy and fulfilled life. The song bustles along to the steady driving rhythm of drummer Alex Johnson, not unlike the heartbeat of a romantic traveler as he looks to the future for inspiration. Cody Russel’s pedal steel interweaves with banjo, fiddle, and electric guitars creating a rich harmonic texture for the vocals to ride on.
The entire album shines with a well balanced mix and dynamic, 70’s Allman-esque guitar harmonies. That being said, you can definitely tell this album was mixed, recorded and produced by a guitar player. Some songs have over five separate guitar tracks/overdubs including: acoustic guitar, two to four electric guitars of varying tones, and pedal steel guitar. Yet, the mix is impressively clear considering all of the different tracks and instruments. However, the guitar-centric nature of the album is by no means a bad thing, it is rock music after all.
The title track “Love and Thirst” brings the band’s namesake into the spotlight with a longing, sullen mood but is hopeful in overall tone. It evokes the struggle of love on the road; doing what you love while leaving a loved one behind – the reality of a touring musicians’ plight. The song features some nice melodic arrangements and is certainly a standout track of the bunch.
“Highs” is probably the most varied track on the album. It begins light, mid tempo, with a more or less standard feel. The groove of the song then changes near the middle to something reminiscent of a String Cheese Incident tune with added percussion and muted island-like guitar riffs. The song then proceeds to a heavier, minor jam segment and finishes out instrumentally.
You can really hear Rob Eaton Junior’s contribution on this album. His guitar lines and harmonies really standout on these songs, giving the appropriate character to the different moods of each track. A highlight guitar solo comes through on the second to last track “Under the Sun” – a burning lead over a latin-tinged rhythm. Jon McCarten really pushes this one along on bass as well.
Love and Thirst is a solid effort. It is enjoyable from end to end. The album has great flow, which can sometimes be an overlooked component when choosing the running order of songs. As a relatively young band, these gentlemen are surely on the upswing of their musical career together. They show confidence and promise while always being a fun band to listen to, always danceable yet reflective and passionate. The Drunken Hearts continue to push the limits of a contemporary edge while remaining thematically traditional and true to soulful country rock.