With C2C: Country to Country now a firm fixture of the UK music calendar, Country music is finally getting some traction here. The number of US stars bringing their music to this side of the pond is increasing and as the recent Country Music Week proved, there’s a very willing audience for the genre. The last few years has seen an emergence of UK Country artists led by The Shires and Ward Thomas, and one of the latest trying to make their name is The Wandering Hearts.
Comprised of AJ, Tim, Chess and Tara, The Wandering Hearts are signed to Decca and have been building a buzz following the release of singles Wish I Could and Devil. Last night the band headlined a show at The Borderline where they played to a sold-out audience, previewing songs from their forthcoming debut album. Performing for just under an hour, the quartet showcased their blend of Country and Folk starting with the upbeat Fire & Water.
It was immediately clear that the group’s selling point is their harmonies. When they come together, they are at their best and they have the ability to swoop and soar in a similar vein to US Country group Little Big Town. The majority of the lead vocals were shared by AJ and Tara with Chess and Tim providing the harmonies, guitar, mandolin and percussion.
Never Expected This, a song AJ wrote about reuniting with an old flame who he’s now engaged to, was one of the strongest moments in the set and it highlighted his stellar vocals. He has a gravelly tone that’s reminiscent of Ray Lamontagne and for me he’s the group’s star. After I left the show it was his vocals that I remembered most clearly.
For Bridges the group stepped away from their microphones, asking the audience to stay quiet so they could let their voices shine. Amazingly they managed to fill The Borderline with their voices and it really showcased the talent the band has. The audience showed their appreciation with plenty of whooping and hollering as the song came to an end.
After the beat-driven Devil, the band said their goodbyes to the audience but quickly reappeared for an encore performance of Rattle. The show ended on a high with the group clearly bowled over by the reception they received.
The Wandering Hearts are talented and have a lot of potential. I would have been interested in hearing Tim and Chess’ vocals outside of the harmonies as I felt they faded into the background a little but overall the band put on a solid show last night. AJ is without a doubt the breakout star of the group and I’ll be interested to see what the band does next.
Set list: 1. Fire & Water 2. Heartbreak Hotel 3. If I Fall 4. Nobody’s Fool 5. Never Expected This 6. Bridges 7. Wish I Could 8. Biting 9. Laid in the Ground 10. Devil 11. Rattle Performance date: 24th October 2017