May 8, 2012

Fuel/Friends Chapel Session #15 :: The Head and The Heart, encore

Ten days shy of the one-year mark from the Saturday morning in March 2011 when we recorded our very first fledgling chapel session ever, my friends in The Head and the Heart made a special trip south to meet me at my house one Friday so we could head into the chapel again. I’d left my door unlocked for them, and walked in to them eating the leftover Cuban black beans I’d mentioned in the fridge, with a Townes Van Zandt documentary on the television, and the Alabama Shakes advance album doo-wopping on the kitchen stereo. I loved how much it felt like home, to all of us.

It has been a hell of a year, a rollercoaster that I’m sure was hoped for but never would have been predicted when I first met this band in the summer of 2010. After their debut album wowed people and their live show exploded across the US (back and forth and back again), Europe, and even Australia, it’s been gratifying to see their exuberant songs of home resonate with so many. The album that’s out now was recorded over two years ago, and while the band has always had a fertile creative process and freely experimented with new songs in their live set, actual recordings of these songs are hard to come by while we wait for the sophomore effort.

Therefore I feel pretty dang lucky to get to peel the lid off this second Fuel/Friends Chapel Session with The Head and The Heart, filled up with new and re-envisioned songs. They’re the first band to come back for another go-around. This session was recorded in a very small, secret-feeling white clapboard chapel nestled next to a creek in the Manitou Springs foothills on the way to Pikes Peak, amidst all the resonant golden wood and humble stained-glass windows. It was called Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and felt like Sunday school. I palmed the keys and let us in those creaky painted doors with no one around but maybe the church mice, and the songs started unfolding.

The session was laced with the fresh. I just laughed to myself as I re-read what I wrote about that very first session: “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 is reinvented.”

Ditto on this one: three new, and one reinvented. Bookends.



THE HEAD AND THE HEART
FUEL/FRIENDS CHAPEL SESSION (MARCH 2, 2012)

Honey Come Home (chapel version)
The version of this song on their debut album sounds downright jaunty in comparison to this fingerpicked, darkly re-worked rendition. Here the song is weary, and almost completely defeated. It sounds older. It sounds bruised and slow and exhausted. None of these things are bad things, because the sentiments Josiah is singing about are difficult and they are sad. The laser focus of grief in this version smolders and hurts, echoed somberly by Charity’s prescient and mournful backing vocals, and I am immediately drawn to it.

I feel like this version of this song could have only come two years after the album version. “…And I am ready to be home.” This time, I might believe him.



Gone
Starting with lyrics about sailing into the fog and vanishing, this is an unreleased song that strongly invokes a departure from a solidly known shore and a journey away. It’s been a fast favorite since I first heard it in 2010, then googled various live versions and fell in love with it. There is the resonance in the naked wail of a confession that we are tryiiing here. On this version, Jon growls a little in seeming frustration. Don’t send me no postcards telling me you miss me. Maybe sometimes we don’t want to miss anybody.



Fire/Fear
This is a brand new song that I had never, ever heard before, and hoooo is it a kicker. This is the second time in the chapel that Josiah has brought something completely new, working out chord changes and sketching notes in the margins. After listening to the first performance (because I am linear in my narrative and always like tracing connections) I told Josiah that it sounded like a bookend to the song “Honey Come Home” – the same ache of a breaking or broken relationship, the same interminable distance from one person to another even as you sit nearby, or across town. He smiled the way that makes his eyes crinkle and affirmed that this is indeed a preface to that very song from their first album, but written from the perspective of the woman in the relationship, and from a younger time in their story. My favorite line in this new song is “so hold me down if I’m running off.” That one slices me, in particular, since sometimes I can appreciate a firm hand on the shoulder and an incentive to “come back.”

He also smiled as he said, “And let’s call it Fire/Fear, in honor of where it was first recorded.” Um, sure. Yes.



Untitled
The session ended with a nuanced performance of this untitled, unreleased song from Jon. I hope that it is someday called “Not Afraid,” because that lyric and that declaration feels like the place in the song where everything hangs for a second, the limbs bend, the constitution is braced. A very early version of this was also part of the first fantastic house show they did for me in November 2010, but this is the only time I’d heard it on the piano, echoing so redolently. The punch infused by the piano is the perfect accompaniment to this song, changing it from a striking campfire song to an irrevocably gutting eulogy. It’s getting harder these days.

At the 2:14 mark, this song made my stomach hurt.



This whole session left me reeling, which by now I should be used to for these folks and their music, since the first time I heard them. I’m glad I’m still not used to it, and that they keep furrowing deep and leaving us shimmering.

ZIP: THE HEAD AND THE HEART CHAPEL SESSION #2




Fitting.



[audio done, as usual, by my favorite talented guys at Blank Tape Records]


27 Comments »

  • Awesome!! Just had someone asking if I knew of any new material from THATH. Thanks for doing these, Heather!

    Scott — May 8, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

  • Simply lovely. As usual. So proud of you all. Thanks for the love and support and encouragement, Heather!!! THATH momma

    Tina Hensley — May 8, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

  • Just going to have to make this an annual event. Oh the humanity…

    jon — May 8, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

  • These are wonderful! Thanks so much.

    Cody Hubbard — May 8, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

  • wow! and what great friends to pull this all together and leave such wonderful memories in their wake. thanks to all,,,and to H&H a big like!

    Robert Britton — May 8, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

  • So good. LOVE!

    Drew Barnard — May 8, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

  • 3pm on a rainy Tuesday in Maine and this post just made my day. Thank you does not even BEGIN to express my gratitude that you’ve shared your time with THATH like this.

    Meg — May 8, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

  • Thanks so much for doing this again!

    Michelle — May 8, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

  • Amazing job Heather—thank you! What a glimpse this gives us of their next CD—-such talent and creativity just waiting to be heard! Another THATH momma—-believe I met you last September in Denver–after the show. With friends like you this band will never be forgotten!

    Gloria Russell — May 8, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

  • UNBELIEVABLY gorgeous. thank you for sharing.

    aggie — May 8, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

  • love, love, love. it makes me even more excited than i already was to see them in may. thanks so much!

    rachelle. — May 8, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

  • Wow. I saw this post this morning and listened to these on repeat, all along a packed freeway on the way to work and back again. Untitled is pretty much the best thing I can remember hearing in a long long time…

    Was lucky enough to see them down here in Western Australia a few months back (https://vimeo.com/34836452) – tell them to get back here soon!!

    Kev — May 9, 2012 @ 1:40 am

  • AH-mazing! This was such a treat to find! I am so excited to hear these new tunes and I have to say this version of Honey Come Home just absolutely slays me. I will share a link to this on my blog today. Heather, you do great work and I admire this blog very much!

    Janet Rhoads — May 9, 2012 @ 10:27 am

  • [...] just shared another Chapel Sessions recording via the amazing, female driven blog from Colorado, Fuel/Friends. An impromptu Christmas morning! I could not be more pleased with what they recorded on this go. [...]

    like christmas morning « theuntzandtheindie — May 9, 2012 @ 11:37 am

  • Amazing! Such a treat, just like last year.

    Tory — May 9, 2012 @ 11:53 am

  • thanks heather…love these sessions…you do us all a great service.
    xo

    sarah sample — May 9, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

  • Holy bajesus that last song is OUTSTANDING. Another great effort from the band and another great recording, Heather. Thank you.

    Aaron — May 9, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

  • [...] Fuel/Friends Chapel Session #15: The Head and the Heart [...]

    This Week at MNO | MN Original — May 11, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

  • YES!! AMAZING!!!!

    Guest — May 12, 2012 @ 1:31 am

  • Can you please upload a video of all these performances?

    Aaliyah — May 15, 2012 @ 2:41 am

  • THANK YOU….so good! xxoo

    Garth — May 15, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

  • Dear God! This….this is amazing! I could not believe it when i stumbled on to this. I would have bought this in a heartbeat. The versions are so raw and (mostly) new. My MONTH is made with finding new THATH songs!! Can’t wait to hear them on an album as well!! Your descriptions of each song enhanced the experience so much. I really appreciate the way you experienced this and how you wrote of those experiences. Eloquent and close to how I imagine I would’ve felt if I were there. I love you describing that the song made your stomach ache at one point….That’s exactly how i would describe moments of listening to THATH. Entirely visceral. Thanks again!!

    Brian — May 16, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

  • [...] Download This: The Head & The Heart – Fuel/Friend’s Chapel Sessions #15 [...]

    Hidden Track » Bloggy Goodness: New Spider Genus – Loureedia — May 24, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

  • I’ll be bumpin’ and a grindin’ to this tonight!

    Bryan West — May 25, 2012 @ 7:46 am

  • Just found this through their website–hadn’t been on it in a while and had the notion to check it. Wow!! What amazing songs and they all really spoke to my head and heart–a true spin on their name. Counting down to when I’ll be seeing them in July.

    Lisa — May 28, 2012 @ 10:47 am

  • [...] Head and the Heart + Blitzen Trapper – An excellent show put on by two bands I really like (and another performer who wasn’t particularly memorable). Hearing “Furr” played live was awesome, and despite some sound issues, Blitzen Trapper were great. Love me a dude who can play the harmonica! The Head and the Heart are always fun (and sound way better in a closed venue than an open one, for those going to see them). At one point during the middle of the set, a dude tried to push his way to the front of our section (where me and my similarly 5’2 sized best friend were standing), and we had to tell him off to get him to let us in front of him. So rude!!! I still think that there should be a section for short people at concert venues where it’s all standing room, but whatever. Other than that, it was great, and it was super cool to hear some of their new songs as well as new arrangements of some songs they had released earlier this year (some available online at Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions). [...]

    october adventures | so this is where the enemy sleeps — October 11, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

  • Thank you so much, this is just beautiful

    Helene — April 13, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

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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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