The path to the second album from UK Americana trio The Wandering Hearts has been a lengthy and challenging one. Following the release of their debut album ‘Wild Silence’ in 2018, the band lost one of its members when Tim Prottey-Jones decided to depart in 2019. With interest in the band picking up on both sides of the Atlantic, and after developing a solid audience for their live shows, the band was dealt another blow in 2020 when they parted ways with their record label Decca. Thankfully the trio – AJ Dean Revington, Chess Whiffin and Tara Wilcox – quickly found a new home with Cooking Vinyl and after a series of delays, their self-titled second album is finally here today.
I’ll admit it took me a while to warm to the band initially but having watched the grow and flourish the past few years, they’ve developed into a stronger unit than the first time I saw them live as a four-piece. It’s clear from listening to ‘The Wandering Hearts’ that the band has truly found its sound on this record. More assured and confident then their debut, and moving in a more Fleetwood Mac-like direction, The Wandering Hearts have never sounded better and more unified than they do here.
Ahead of the album the trio has made a number of tracks available to fans including the harmony-filled swampy Southern-influenced ‘Over Your Body’ and the heartfelt ode to the late Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan on ‘Dolores’, a song that emphasises the importance of mental health and treating others with kindness. Those songs are a solid indication of what to expect from the record, with the band putting a lot of focus into their harmonies and how they work with one another.
Opening track ‘Hammer Falls’ builds up for more than a minute before the song really gets going and the first thing you hear over the music is those gorgeous, tight harmonies. On ‘Dreams’, penned by Marty Stuart and his wife Connie Smith, the trio prove that UK artists can authentically tackle Americana without it sounding like a hokey homage. Again, the song is built around the three-part harmonies and it’s a strong moment on the record.
The highlight on the record for me is the uptempo ‘Never Too Late’, a song that overflows with hope and positivity. Hitting harder than it would have done pre-pandemic, it feels like a call-to-action to anyone who has dismissed their dreams or made excuses not to pursue a passion. Expect this one to be a highlight of every live show the band does from now on.
‘Tell Me When I Wake Up’ is a folky moment with AJ’s husky tone creating atmosphere and recalling the mighty Nick Drake. It may be one of the album’s moodier moments but it’s a song that will grab your attention. ‘Stardust’ is a jingly jangly moment of pop-tinged Country and ‘Build a Fire’ is an uptempo jam that fills out the band’s harmonies for a rousing moment you’ll keep going back to.
The Wandering Hearts have truly come into their own with this album and it feels like their ups-and-downs the last couple of years have made them stronger. With support from Bob Harris and a hardcore fanbase in the UK, plus two major tours on the cards, the only way the trio can go from here is up. Far superior to ‘Wild Silence’, ‘The Wandering Hearts’ is a beautiful collection of songs from the leaders of the UK Americana/Country movement.
Track list: 1. Hammer Falls 2. Over Your Body 3. Build a Fire 4. I Feel It Too 5. Gold 6. Dolores 7. Dreams 8. Never Too Late 9. Tell Me When I Wake Up 10. On Our Way 11. Stardust 12. Lullaby Record label: Cooking Vinyl Release date: 6th August 2021 Buy ‘The Wandering Hearts’ now