ALBUM REVIEW: The Drunken Hearts' The Prize
Words by Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Shoot)
Hailing from all over our great state of Colorado, and hosts of one of the most fun/jam-filled festivals going today (YarmonyGrass), The Drunken Hearts are truly a part of what makes the Colorado music scene one of, if not the best in the country. Led by powerhouse lead vocalist Andrew McConathy, the Hearts latest album release has the band truly coming into its own as part Americana story-tellers and part jam-induced rock stars. The Prize highlights all five of the band members individually, bringing forth their strengths of bleeding pedal guitar/rocking licks with McConathy’s haunting voice and ability to be a stellar bandleader. Whether it’s Cody Russell on the lap-steel, bassist Jon McCartan harmonizing on back-up vocals, or Kory Montgomery shredding on “White Whale,” the Drunken Hearts are continually evolving as a Colorado-based band and seem to be gaining some major momentum along the way.
The Prize, released and crowd-funded through Kickstarter.com (151% of asked donations) is a great way to get into the Drunken Hearts discography if you have not had the chance yet. “Tear My Heart Out” seems to be about a dream-filled love adventure, with McConathy repeating the song title numerous times making me wonder if his life is the inspiration for the heart-string pulling song. “Greyhound” has an almost funky-groove to it, with the rhythm section of McCartan and Alex Johnson on drums providing a great beat to go with McConathy’s again emotional lyrics coming through beautifully.
“Chase that bus down for four red lights…”
Along with a guest horn section, Cody Russell plus his lap-steel mastery plays along nicely with some slide-guitar from Montgomery making “Greyhound” one of my favorite tunes on the album.
“Black Snake” is a Drunken Hearts shred-fest, with a guest harmonica player being highlighted at the beginning again reminding us of the Americana influences this band comes from. “Seasons” is a slowed down ballad, bringing to my mind how The Hearts would most likely play this one in a live setting. I personally would love to hear McConathy with an old-school single microphone highlighted by a single beam of light, belting out this deep emotional tune by himself. (Would be tough not to have tears roll down your face!)
“Heart Strings” highlights Russell’s ability to jump from pedal steel to the banjo, bringing another tool to The Hearts' musical repertoire. “Broken Things” showcases Montgomery’s guitar playing skills, and to start off the album with such an entertaining song is a great idea in my opinion. (And the bass lines from McCartan are just filthy!)
All in all, The Prize is an extremely pleasing album to listen to and I truly congratulate The Drunken Hearts on utilizing their fanbase to the best of their ability and getting this out to the public! The notion of crowd-funding is sometimes tough to swallow, but when it helps an up-and-coming band fulfill their dreams, I am fully behind it. Along with the release of The Prize, the Hearts are touring the festival circuit heavy in 2018. Do not miss them if you have the chance, as big things are on the horizon for these Colorado story-tellers.