Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Album Review "Hearts From Above" Micky & The Motorcars

"Hearts From Above" is the 6th studio album from one of Americana music's best, Micky & The Motorcars, and is the much-anticipated follow up to 2011's stellar collection "Raise My Glass."  The new album of 12 songs has a much happier vibe than their prior but it does not disappoint in pulling at the heartstrings.  "Hearts From Above" is full of beautiful songs laced with the themes of travel, love, history, and a few rockers the band is known for.  A sound not heard for awhile on MMC's music is the addition of Cody Braun's (from Reckless Kelly) fiddle; it accompanies the Braun brothers' voices perfectly and hopefully this won't be the last time we hear fiddle on a Motorcars album.  Rounding out The Motorcars' sound is Joe Fladger on bass, Bobby Paugh on drums and percussion, and Dustin Schaefer on electric and acoustic lead guitar and slide guitar.

The title track and current single opens the album and sets the tone for the rest of the songs.  It's a mid-tempo love song featuring sterling harmonies from all of the Braun brothers.  It's a song about not only feeling love from across town, but from those who are looking down from above.

"Long Road To Nowhere" shows off a vulnerability in Micky Braun's voice I haven't heard since 2008's brilliant "Seeds."  The raw emotion in this road song is on full display and the melody is a bit melancholy in places.  The song bounces along teetering between heartache and hopefulness, conveying the desperation of the situation.

The album has a smattering of happy love songs but those are balanced with plenty of rockers MMC is known for.  "Hurt Again, " "Destined To Fall," "Fall Apart," "Southbound Street" and "Tonight We Ride" are all instant Motorcars classics.  "Tonight We Ride" is an intense anthem that has been humming in my head since the first time I heard it almost a year ago live.  The first two verses build into a soaring chorus about fighting for what you believe in.

"Once In A Lifetime Girl" takes the listener on a geographical love journey and it's a standout on the collection.  With Micky Braun's warm vocal backed by beautiful fiddle and heartfelt lyrics, the delivery is a simple yet lovely ode to the singer's girl.  It's one of the most traditional country songs found on this collection and one of my favorites.  

Another stellar composition is "My Girl Now," a mid-tempo shuffle that also leans heavily towards the traditional sound.  From the first verse of "I see you staring off into the distance...wasting wishes on every falling star...but they burn out just like every birthday candle...and you end up standing right back where you are..." to the last notes; it conveys the urgency to the singer's girl to stop looking around and be content where she is.  The melody is one of the prettiest in the bunch.

"You Led Me The Wrong Way" and "From Where The Sun Now Stands" feature Gary Braun on lead vocals.  The former written by Gary about an on again, off again relationship and the latter a stellar ballad about the plight of the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce.  Written by Gary and Willy Braun (from Reckless Kelly), the song takes listeners back to a time where the Nez Perce, led by Chief Joseph, were forced from their home in the Wallowa Valley, Oregon, to Idaho, then on to Montana.  About 40 miles from the Canadian border, Chief Joseph surrendered to General Miles and is reported to have said, "Hear me, my chiefs!  I am tired; my heart is sick and sad.  From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."  The lyrics of the song mirror that sentiment and make for a very powerful statement set to beautiful music.

"Sister Lost Soul" is the only cover of the album, penned by Alejandro Escovedo and Charles Prophet, but it feels at home to MMC's sound.  It's a fitting tribute to former MMC bassist, Mark McCoy, and to all who've been lost.  

Micky & The Motorcars continue to create amazing music all the while touring relentlessly.  I highly recommend this new album (as well as the others) and also seeing them perform live.  
"Hearts From Above" is available on July 31st in limited locations, everywhere on August 5.