The Head and the Heart, Declan McKenna | The Ritz | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week

Clubs & Concerts

The Head and the Heart, Declan McKenna

When: Mon., Oct. 24, 8 p.m. 2016

photo courtesy of the billions corporation



"I need to know you're thinking of me," croons Josiah Johnson in a falsetto on the title track of The Head and the Heart's new album, Signs of Light. Beginning as a stark piano ballad, it gives way to an orchestral expanse of layered guitar work and violin before settling back into Johnson's rumination, reduced to a whisper over the final traces of haunting piano. As the album's closer, its poignancy is threefold. It's first and foremost a nod to Johnson, who is on hiatus from the band (which includes this tour) as he focuses on his recovery from addiction. Sonically, it marks the upward trajectory of the Seattle six-piece, which has matured significantly since its days climbing the charts along-side bands like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers. Lyrically, "Signs of Light" encompasses the duality of life that the rest of the album grapples with: the tug-of-war between the dark and the light.

Elsewhere on the record, the light wins out, positing the notion that there's hope in times of hardship. This sunny disposition is partially rooted in locale. Co-frontman Jonathan Russell wrote the second track, "City of Angels," in the heart of Los Angeles during the band's first major break from touring since releasing its self-titled EP in 2011. The rest of the record follows suit, incorporating the fresh perspectives and renewed energy each member brought to the studio after his or her respective break.

Once the group reconvened, it signed to Warner Brothers Records and took to Nashville to record Signs of Light. For the first time, the band enlisted a producer, Jay Joyce (Little Big Town, Eric Church, Cage the Elephant). As a result, the record is a collection of lush arrangements tinged with classic rock flourishes. Songs like the harmonic ballad "Colors" soar under Joyce's production, with Russell, Johnson, and violinist Charity Rose Thielen sharing vocal duties.

Since Johnson's announcement, though, The Head and the Heart has had to adjust its live show when it comes to tunes like "Colors" and fan favorite "Rivers and Roads." The band's friend Matty Gervais is filling in for Johnson, with Russell shifting into the spotlight as frontman. Although the lineup shift is temporary, there's talk of Gervais remaining with the group after Johnson returns. Until that time, The Head and the Heart will be working to deliver its light far and wide. With Declan McKenna. —Desiré Moses


8 p.m., $35.50,

Price: $36

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