By Brittany Rudyck
EDMONTON – There’s a noticeable dampened quality on the Hearts’ new EP Sunshine. Not damp in a sad way, but in an intensely cerebral, slow-you-down way. It’s a beautifully cleansing jolt to the heart. The five-song EP explores themes of impermanence and change, which the six-piece experienced in varying degrees during the making of the album.
“We happened to record this material during a time when a lot of us were going through points of transition in our personal lives,” says singer Jeff Stuart. “Recording this was an opportunity to counteract some of that and allow this process to be less restrictive. It was a good outlet for all of us.”
Some changes in the line-up may have also cemented the change in the band’s approach to writing and recording, such as adding Alex Vissia and keeping drummer Bradford Trebble on as the full-time drummer.
“I’d say three quarters of the tracks are first takes, the first crack at an idea or scratch takes,” explains keyboardist Dwayne Martineau. “What makes them good is that they aren’t perfect. We kept more of the imperfections and happy accidents that only happen when you’re not overthinking it.”
Musically, the EP features delicate wisps of pedal steel and patient, slightly sleepy acoustic guitar parts on songs like “Swallowed by the Morning Sky.” The release leans slightly more toward folk and country than previous effort Equal Love (2014), which had more of an indie-pop feel. It’s almost refreshing to hear more melancholy squeezed out of the band, who beautifully balance a doleful tone with the correct amount of reassuring hope. Deeply evocative, you may need tissues at the release show.
“I think we captured the kind of feel and energy from a live performance we were going for on the last album,” says Martineau. “This simply refines and focuses on those elements.”
While Stuart and Martineau didn’t get into too much detail about the personal changes they faced during the making of Sunshine, they did share some insight about the album cover.
“It’s a photo Dwayne took of my dog Arlo who I had to put down in January,” Stuart shares. “He ended up becoming the subject of the album artwork because the photo seemed to capture a lot of the sentiment behind the recording.”
Whether by accident or on purpose, the Hearts have created a small body of work everyone needs to hear at some point in their life. Applying subtle philosophy to heartfelt, unhindered instrumentals do what music is supposed to do – make you feel something.
“Dogs represent the idea of purity and remind us how to live in the moment,” concludes Stuart. “It’s easy to lose sight of that and rely on external validation rather than allowing it to arise from within.”
The Hearts release Sunshine on May 26 at the Aviary (Edmonton).Aviary, The Hearts