Ha Ha Tonka - Heart-Shaped Mountain
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Heart-Shaped Mountain (Bloodshot, 2017)

Ha Ha Tonka

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

With "The Party," Ha Ha Tonka sing empathetically about regret as they point out: "All of your friends got married, overnight/You haven't found anybody just yet and you don't even want to try tonight." They go on to add insult to injury by mentioning how (seemingly) all their friends are now having kids. Then with the chorus, they summarize it all by asking, "Oh, why do we seem to be the last ones here at the party?" These days, these friends are all alone, together on their own. Getting married and starting families are wonderful life changes. But for those on the outside - of the party, if you will - such beautiful events can seem like pure torture.

Ha Ha Tonka also get deeply philosophical about life during "Everything." It's a pretty (but another sad) song, where they ask if life's big events - such as getting married and having children, for instance - is everything you thought it would be.

"Heart-Shaped Mountain" is not downright depressing album. However, if you're on the wrong side of these life events they sing about, you might ask - to quote Peggy Lee - Is that all there is?

The surging "Height of My Fears" gives insight into how many of these negative outlooks take hold. "My thoughts take flight on terrible wings," it begins. The song later continues. "I know my head is such a horrible place." Sure, you could say it's all in his head; but if his head "is such a horrible place," that's small comfort.

Sonically, Ha Ha Tonka can be quite the chime-y, melodic alternative rock band. While in concert, they can break out into some truly authentic bluegrass singing; in the studi,o they tend to lean more toward Americana rock. With its outstanding playing and insightful lyrics "Heart-Shaped Mountain" is one strong - if sometimes a bit of a downer - effort.

CDs by Ha Ha Tonka

Heart-Shaped Mountain, 2017 Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South, 2009

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