March 24, 2011

The Head and The Heart :: the first Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions

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Two weekends ago on a sunny Saturday afternoon, we recorded the very first Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions in an empty stone church sanctuary, something I have been wanting to do for years now and never had the help I needed to make it happen. The Head and The Heart and Kelli Schaefer filled those colossal stone halls with a sound that was so huge that I kept feeling like I was drowning.

The Saturday afternoon before the house show, I rousted Jon, Josiah and Charity from my couch and coaxed them over to the historic Romanesque halls of the Shove Chapel on the campus of the college where I work, and they rewarded us with a profusely vivid, simple, stunning time of musical inspiration. Thanks to my wonderful friends at local Blank Tape Records, the recording gear was running.

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After multiple takes of whatever felt right, three of the four songs we ended up with here are not recorded or released anywhere else, and the fourth (“Rivers and Roads”) is reinvented with the richly profound resonance of the piano instead of the fiercely-strummed acoustic guitar that we’ve previously heard. I could not be more pleased with how these turned out. Growing from the fertile feeling of comfort that filled that space, it felt more like a private songwriting session than a concert.

It was a session permeated, for me, by a flooding sense of luckiness. There were only three of us non-participants sitting in that sanctuary watching the three of them play, their instruments and voices reverberating off the old stones and the stained glass. You can hear it on these recordings, the dusty space in the air as the light streamed in. I have a strong intuition that this band is going to be significant to a much larger audience, as they have been to me and so many of you. The three of us sitting in the pews kept just looking at each other across the room; we couldn’t believe how heady it felt when the moment resonated and the chords struck and the harmonies fit like keys and locks, or fingers interlaced, or an embrace.

After the session when I hugged each of them, they were sweaty and elated — clearly electrified from the moment we all felt hanging in the air all around that Saturday. Listen.



THE HEAD AND THE HEART ::
FUEL/FRIENDS CHAPEL SESSIONS

In The Summertime
In its purest essence, this is a song about the certainty of love, and the undeniable beauty when you just know. Some things you just know. Josiah wrote this song in the green room in Memphis before their show with Dr. Dog last month. At the beginning of our session while we were setting up mics and cords, and the band was exploring the gorgeous setting we found ourselves in, Josiah sat down at the massive black piano that was on the stage, and started to pound out these chords, then launched into the words, “Lord, give me to the one that makes me whole…“  There is a traditional structure here that made me first think it was an old gospel or hippie-church song, but I soon realized it was all his.

It was one of the first times he had played it for his bandmates, and Jon walked over with his guitar and started feeling out the strum of the chords alongside Josiah, gauging the building ferocity as Josiah’s voice strengthened and cracked, smiling at Josiah so that his eyes crinkled. As I stood there, I could almost see the bluish-purple energy crackling between the two of them when things hit just right. Then the sad sweet song of Charity’s violin pierced across the stage as she felt out the parts where it wound and fit into this new song that they created there. When they recorded it a bit later in the session, her last notes sound like a deep cold river and make it hard to breathe.

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Chasing A Ghost
This is a new song that readers first started emailing me about just in the last few weeks; the band closed the Chicago show encore with this one, a heady and molasses-sweet song with Jon on lead and the duetting “oooooh”s sweetly shading in the colors. The song has the flickering warm campfire glow of an old country lovesong, ballasted with Jon’s raspy warmth that commands notice. The lyrics detail the struggle to not fall in love with someone you’ve already kinda fallen in love with, the jumping without a rope to catch you.

There’s a point at 2:30 where everything else cuts out and Jon belts “and I am falling, falling for you…” and it shot chills up my neck, both when we recorded it and again now each time I listen to this.

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Josh McBride
From what I understand of this song, it’s an older one, based on words penned by an old friend of Josiah’s. This is the same one I have been calling “Attic Ladder” or “The Seat Beside Me” for several months now since I first heard it; I love the weight of classicism and the delicateness woven throughout it. It feels very ancient somehow, timeless. As they played this song, Jon slid behind the piano and started feeling out those little piano fills you hear in between the guitar picking, for the first time. This weekend as we listened to it, my friend Michelle pointed out that the piano cadence that Jon made up sounds like the ladder referenced in the song, the up and down.

There’s a direct contrast between “you are in the seat beside me” (I picture driving in a car, knee close enough to touch) and “you are in my dreams at night.” It is a wonderful thing when the actual aligns with the nighttime meanderings of our dreams.

There is also so much resonance in me with the line about how this is “not the last time, we are learning who we are, and what we were.” Oh, we all are. This is a song for that.

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Rivers and Roads
There was a Daytrotter session once with The Tallest Man on Earth where he sang his song “I Won’t Be Found” completely on piano. The first time I heard it I literally stopped dead in my tracks, riveted. That also happened with the pendulous sadness that “For Emma” absorbs when Bon Iver plays it on piano, and it’s the same way I feel about hearing this song reinvented with Josiah on piano, and Jon and Charity crowded in closely behind him, over the building chords.

It’s an undeniably great song either way but, wow, this version has my number and stole my heart; I think the piano is my favorite instrument. The tinkly top notes on the piano towards the end (after the “rivers ’til I reach you” lyric) come from Jon leaning in over Josiah’s shoulder to plink out those shiny accents. And inbetween the tapping of toes, those harmonies on the last line of this song create one of the most chill-inducing moments of the entire session — you can hear the echo and feel, truly, like you are at church. A benediction and a blessing, a hope of paths that will continue to cross. Oh, and Charity also completely knocks it out of the park on her verse here. She leaned back and opened her chest to the heavens.

Everything was opened.

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ZIP: The Head and The Heart – Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions



[stay tuned for the next Fuel/Friends Chapel Session, with Kelli Schaefer, sometime later next week!]


47 Comments »

  • Thank you so much for this! That Rivers and Roads is amazing. I didn’t think anything could beat the SXSW version from Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop, but this is incredible. It *does* take on many of the qualities that Bon Iver’s For Emma does on piano. Beautiful. Thanks again!

    Gus — March 24, 2011 @ 6:51 am

  • Wow!! Thanks so much for sharing this! Amazing quality of both music and atmospheric recording… pure bliss!

    Bill — March 24, 2011 @ 7:57 am

  • WONDERFUL! Will this be available for purchase or download anywhere? I love them and their sound here is amazing.

    Brad — March 24, 2011 @ 9:29 am

  • it’s an amazing feeling when you get to fall in love with a band all over again. i was already excited about the portland show, but now i’m counting down the seconds :-) Heather, thanks so very much for organizing this!

    Thom — March 24, 2011 @ 9:54 am

  • Thanks Heather! These very well might be the most beautiful recordings I have ever heard. Pure Magic! Thanks for making my birthday complete.

    Mike — March 24, 2011 @ 10:00 am

  • scratch my last comment. I just saw the zipped files. Awesome. Love it.

    Brad — March 24, 2011 @ 10:17 am

  • Heather, you are one damn lucky lady. Great work, as usual, from an amazingly inspiring band. I hope you try and get The Lumineers in soon for a chapel session!

    Sarah — March 24, 2011 @ 10:19 am

  • This is just so perfect.

    I’m not sure if you’ve heard Daniel Martin Moore’s (relatively) new album ‘In the Cool of the Day,’ but the more I listen to this session the more it reminds me of that feeling of warmth and home I get when I put that on. These aren’t gospel songs like Moore laid out, but, as you say, you couldn’t be faulted for believing they were.

    Adam — March 24, 2011 @ 10:30 am

  • The zip won’t unarchive. Am I the only one having this problem?
    (otherwise, stoked on this!)

    poopers — March 24, 2011 @ 10:56 am

  • Wow, beautifully written descriptions to match these gorgeous tunes. Thanks for sharing Heather….

    Konan — March 24, 2011 @ 10:56 am

  • you know, re: the zip file, sorry! sometimes it does that and i am not sure why. you may just have to download each of the 4 tracks separately. i’ll see also if i can’t fix it from this end also.

    browneheather — March 24, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  • Congrats on this! nice, nice, nice!

    Bruce Warren — March 24, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

  • “Rivers and Roads” killed me. As in, I died. For real.

    Wow.

    Dainon — March 24, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

  • I was able to open the zip file by using Stuff It Expander on my Mac. The default archive utility didn’t unzip the file…

    Kevin — March 24, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

  • any possibilities that there will be videos from these chapel sessions?

    Bradley — March 24, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  • [...] Go as fast as possible over to our friends at Fuel/Friends Blog, who have recently posted a gorgeous, warm and altogether fantastic session with The Head and The [...]

    ‘Josh McBride’- The Head and The Heart | songsfortheday — March 24, 2011 @ 4:42 pm

  • Beautiful job all around, thanks.

    Techno-Babble – if you’re having trouble with the Zip file you need to use “Stuffit Expander” to unzip it rather than the built in Mac Archive utility. I don’t know why – blame Canada.

    kcortez — March 24, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

  • So. Dang. Good.

    Kate — March 24, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

  • This is fantastic! What a fabulous idea. Thanks for sharing and remaining one of my favorite blogs :)

    elaine — March 24, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

  • Heather, this is spectacular. The beauty of the songs are revealed in the performances. Well done.

    Roy — March 24, 2011 @ 7:57 pm

  • Favorite post ever. THANK YOU so much for introducing me to this band . . . when was it, last summer? when you put up their parking lot mix. Damn. Still love them.

    And as another bit of awesomeness, I ordered the poster from your living room show and it’s even more gorgeous in real life.

    Thank you!

    Carter — March 24, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

  • What an amazing band, what an amazing recording. Thanks, for this. Go Seattle.

    Luke Johnson — March 24, 2011 @ 10:39 pm

  • found your blog through sound on the sound a while back…thank you for sharing these incredible recordings. such beautiful music.

    stephanie — March 24, 2011 @ 11:39 pm

  • WOW. This is absolutely awesome. Thank you for capturing this very special session and posting it for us to hear. I love these guys. Rivers and Roads is my favorite song of theirs (this week anyway) and this is a lovely version. Kudos, Heather.

    Ellen — March 25, 2011 @ 11:38 pm

  • [...] Very cool concert download here:  Chapel Session [...]

    The Head and the Heart – Free Concert Here! « Heroes of Indie Music — March 26, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

  • [...] Fuel Friends Blog After hosting an impromptu in-house jam-sesh with rising Seattle stars The Head and the Heart (THATH) late last year, Heather Browne of Colorado-based music portal Fuel Friends Blog has done it again. Two weekends ago, THATH filled the stone halls of Colorado College’s historic Shove Chapel with richly effusive sound, laying down exclusive new recordings for the first-ever Fuel/Friends Chapel Session. “I have a strong intuition that this band is going to be significant to a much larger audience, as they have been to me and so many of you,” Browne comments in her Chapel Session blog post, which also features four downloadable tracks capturing special renditions of THATH’s “In the Summertime,” “Chasing A Ghost,” “Josh McBride” and “Rivers and Roads.” “ The three of us sitting in the pews kept just looking at each other across the room; we couldn’t believe how heady it felt when the moment resonated and the chords struck and the harmonies fit like keys and locks, or fingers interlaced, or an embrace.” Follow the link above to have a look and a listen. [...]

    FUEL FRIENDS BLOG PRESENTS AN(OTHER) EXCLUSIVE HEAD AND THE HEART RECORDING SESSION « Seattle Office of Film + Music — March 28, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  • I hadn’t gotten around to listening to all of these. This am played “Chasing a Ghost” and completely died. Took my breath away.

    tina hensley — April 1, 2011 @ 10:59 am

  • oh wow! thank you for sharing!!

    noestine — April 4, 2011 @ 6:57 am

  • [...] Heart, head to the incomparable Heather Browne’s blog I Am Fuel/You Are Friends and download The Head and The Heart’s fantastic Fuel/Friends Chapel Session, recorded live in the Shove Memorial Chapel at Colorado [...]

    Head over heels for The Head and the Heart | of sound minds — April 18, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

  • [...] piano and guitar. You can also check out Fuel For Friend’s first live recording of this band right here.Lastly, the always churning I’m From Barcelona are out this week with Forever Today. We honestly [...]

    Music Under Fire » New Music Releases For Tuesday 4/19/2011 — April 19, 2011 @ 9:36 am

  • Thanks! Amazing …

    Keith — April 30, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  • [...] since it isn’t on the record. But if you’d like to listen to it, Fuel Friends Blog did record a Chapel Session back in March. Another great moment was when singer Jonathan Russell took the stage solo with his [...]

    The Head and the Heart play first of two sold-out Seattle shows @ The Showbox at the Market | popwreckoning — May 10, 2011 @ 9:01 am

  • [...] more from The Head and The Heart in the near future.  If you get the chance, pop over to the Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions to hear/download some really great live songs by [...]

    Tuesday Pass Along – The Head and The Heart « The Meatysauce Review — May 17, 2011 @ 10:32 am

  • [...] The Head and the Heart, Lost in My Mind The Head and the Heart, Down in the Valley (I also liked the YouTube video of this song live in Seattle) The Head and the Heart, Josh McBride (from the beautiful Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions) [...]

    The music in my head today (Head and the Heart/Iron and Wine) — May 30, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

  • [...] lovers. However, moments of delicate introspection such as Winter Song and Josh McBride (from their Chapel Sessions) aside, their straining for both authenticity and jollity can bring to mind people knocking on your [...]

    The Head and the Heart: The Head and the Heart – review | dailywebday.com — August 6, 2011 @ 8:43 am

  • [...] If you haven’t checked the Head & the Heart out yet, you can grab their Daytrotter set here, and their Fuel/Friend Chapel Session here. [...]

    the head & the heart @ lincoln theatre | brand new kind of photography — September 23, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

  • [...] lovers. However, moments of delicate introspection such as Winter Song and Josh McBride (from their Chapel Sessions) aside, their straining for both authenticity and jollity can bring to mind people knocking on your [...]

    The Head and the Heart: The Head and the Heart – review | Freaky Party — October 14, 2011 @ 7:36 pm

  • [...] Heather Browne who is writer at FuelFriendsBlog.com and was responsible for The Head and The Heart Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions (Included in the UK Deluxe release of The Head and The Heart Album) Cancel [...]

    The Head and The Heart News and Headlines, Nov 2, 2011 — November 2, 2011 @ 3:12 am

  • [...] JavaScript enabled in your browser.  DownloadIf you liked that, please go check other the amazing The Head and The Heart Chapel Session over at Fuel/Friends.  And if you still want more, NPR’s got some video and audio from a [...]

    The Head and The Heart Visit Daytrotter | Shh, Listen... — December 30, 2011 @ 6:28 pm

  • [...] version is a part of the always fantastic Fuel Friends Chapel session, and you really should listen with your whole [...]

    The Head and the Heart – River and Roads — February 15, 2012 @ 5:59 am

  • [...] unreleased songs. The first session released in late march of last year can be found here – Fuel/Friends THATH #1 There is no set release date on this one, but as soon as it is ready to be released we will let you [...]

    The Head and The Heart Weekend Roundup: TOUR TIME! — March 4, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

  • [...] Fuel/Friends and grab this encore session- it is wonderful in every single way. Oh, and grab their first session while you’re at it- it’s just as fantastic. [...]

    ‘Untitled’- The Head and The Heart | songsfortheday — May 10, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

  • Thanks so much, Heather. Another superb find!

    Noel — July 11, 2012 @ 11:31 am

  • [...] acts The Head and the Heart.  This past week, I Am Fuel, You Are Friends had them in to record the first of their new Chapel Sessions [...]

    I Hope Your Ears Bleed » Blog Archive » This Week’s Music News — July 21, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

  • I’ve been following THATH for over two years now, I live in the Seattle area so I discovered them early. They are absolutely incredible, as is this blog post. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for your blogging.

    Julie — August 24, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

  • Hi! I am so glad I found this…love THATH for a few years but somehow am just now finding this glory! Thanks for sharing. Just a quick thing – I downloaded the zip files of a few other sessions, but this one isn’t working for some reason. Any idea why? Thanks for this again! Excited for their new album.

    Lauren — October 9, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

  • Holy moly, how come I never discovered this one before!?? I was lucky enough to witness THATH live on stage a few weeks ago here in Glasgow. Funnily enough in a venue that is pretty much a “converted church” – even though not even close to the Chapel Sessions pictured above. This acoustic experience must have given you the creeps, right!? Wonderful, thanks for sharing!

    Oliver — March 27, 2014 @ 5:37 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. If you represent an artist or a label and would prefer that I remove a link to an mp3, please email me at browneheather@gmail.com

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