Thursday, September 11, 2008

Album Review: A. A. Bondy's American Hearts

Just when I think there couldn’t possibly be another album to add to my mental list of the best records of 2008, along comes one more. Such was the case when I checked out A. A. Bondy after finding out he was opening for the Felice Brothers during the band’s recent Ithaca show.

A. A. is a populist singer-songwriter in the Steve Earle vein. High praise? Certainly. But also deserved. Take a listen to his solo debut, American Hearts, and you’ll see what I mean. This is a completely different sound for Bondy, who prior to going solo was the front man for the punkish Verbena. Not too many folks heard his old band, but I sure hope people tune into American Hearts.

Recorded in a barn studio in the Catskills with the Felice Brothers as the backing band, the album has the feeling of good friends making great music together. The arrangements are open and work perfectly with the lyrics and the feel of the songs.

Lyrically A. A. Bondy takes on the big themes of love, death, war, and religion. And the images he uses are wonderful. “There was a man with cinders for eyes / There was a girl with a dress made of flies,” he sings on the track, “There’s A Reason,” a very, very pretty yearning love song. Along with faith and the other subjects, politics is another topic featured prominently on the record. “Witness Blues,” takes on the topic of the war and military service. The title track is my new theme song for the election, containing all of my hopes for change and thoughts about what it means to be an American. And I’m right there with him when he sings, “And don't tread on me / For I am your brother / I was born with an American heart / And don't tread on her / For she is your sister / She was born with an American heart.”

Check out a live concert from SXSW that NPR recorded for All Songs Considered.


American Hearts

There's A Reason


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