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The Head and the Heart go beyond the nah nahs

Agannis Arena, Boston, October 12, 2019

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

"Nah nah," "la la" and "Wee oh" populated a number of songs from The Head and the Heart.

Yes, the Seattle-based band does pen a good amount of sing-along songs that were clearly designed that way. And while that style can certainly engage and energize a crowd, there was more to that from the sextet.

The Head and the Heart - an indie folk band that has veered towards pop - with a lot to like about them, especially the songs on their latest "Living Mirage." They kicked off the taut 85-minute with the title cut and the well-done hit "Missed Connection." The latter was pretty faithful to the original. Only two songs into the show, it was a bit surprising that THAHT would play it so early.

That obviously was an indication of the confidence the group had its own material as well as its fans.

And with good reason. Almost half of the show as devoted to "Living Mirage" with particular standouts in "I Found Out" and "See You Through My Eyes." Both were uptempo and bouncy, seemingly the bread and butter of THAHT.

Lead singer Jonathan Russell showcased himself as a very good singer - simply pleasant to listen to. His personality was on the decidedly laid back side, not saying a whole lot more to the crowd than "thank you" a few times.

Charity Rose Thielen was a vocal force on her own as she took stanzas in many songs, providing a good contrast to Russell. She also handled the fiddle, adding another flavor to the sound.

Pianist Kenny Hensley was a standout, beautifully coloring the songs.

The bright sounds of the music were at times punctuated by hopefulness. Russell offered a solo take on the politically-based "Glory of Music" on which he sang "I don't have to tell you what's right/But I can't stand around while they're putting us down/You know everyone deserves a fair fight/And it's coming around, it's coming around."

So it's not all feel good, light, crowd-inducing choruses. The Head and the Heart were far more than that.

The duo Illiterate Light opened with a Neil Young-influenced set. Playing drums and guitar, they capably filled the arena. Their sound may not have been the most unique going, but singer/guitarist Jeff Gorman, who echoed Young vocally, and drummer Jake Cochran meshed quite well.