This debut by the aptly named The Head and the Heart is a solid showcase for the band's easy, earthy Americana-pop sound that taps into both body parts with the familiar touch of an old friend. The Seattle six-piece has a winning combination of vocals in Charity Rose Thielen (who also plays violin) and core members Josiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell, who deliver refreshingly reverb-free performances; they are masters of heartpounding crescendos and deliriously infectious folkisms (foot stomping, hand-clapping, etc.).
Pianos and guitars rule, and smart, touching lyrics are uncluttered by clever instrumental overkill. The carefree Cats and Dogs opens things up, like a rope swing on a summer day: My roots have grown / but I don't know where they are. That theme of wandering roots is further explored in the gorgeous Down in the Valley, which uses a lithe violin and a beautifully nostalgia-laced vocal melody to sculpt a palpable longing. If you like your new Americana music honest and direct - think Avett Brothers or The Civil Wars - you'll be delighted to discover The Head and The Heart.