I first heard AA Bondy on a beautiful summer afternoon a few years ago and thought, "Well, good. The world needs another Dylan wanna be." I quickly stuck my foot in my mouth and failed to tell anyone (until now) that I had muttered those words.
American Hearts is the 2007 release of one Auguste Arthur Bondy, a lanky Louisiana native who can write one hell of a song and play a guitar to beat the band. Spawned from the break of his band Verbena in 2003, American Hearts was a hard set change of direction for this rocker. Focused mainly on traditional folk ideas and sounds, Bondy set his own name in lights with this release as it quickly gained momentum through folk circles.
Mainly using an acoustic guitar, harmonica, and his frail, slurry, reedy voice, Bondy creates the perfect cloth on which to lay down his southern tales and societal views. On the track "Black Rain, Black Rain", Bondy spins a brilliant guitar melody simultaneously melded with his buttery fingerpicking. The lyrics to this tune, and most on this record, speak of a looming apocalyptic occurrence, but it's never clear whether this is restricted to the narrator, or the globe is entering its last phase. The following tune "Rapture (Sweet Rapture)" really proves the point that Bondy is somewhat preoccupied with someone's demise. The mid-album show stopper, "American Hearts", is a Dylan-esque account of the downfalls of American society with the anthemic chorus, "Don't tread on me, for I am your brother, I was born with an American heart". I feel that his metaphorical descriptions paint a fairly realistic picture of America on a personal level.
And for those weary of "folk" music, Bondy has still held on to a few of his rock and roll roots with songs like "No Man Shall", "Lover's Waltz", and "Killed Myself When I Was Young", where someone picks up the drum sticks and Bondy cranks the gain on his old Fender amp. For those who love the blues, American Hearts is rich with the influence and would make an excellent addition to your collection.
American Hearts is probably the most honest picture of current affairs I can think of in recent memory. Bondy owns the lyrical finesse of Dylan and the story telling of Kerouac, and compacts it into a hard to swallow pill of reality.
Somethings Old, New, Borrowed, & True
"...the greatest singer songwriter you've never heard. He's a little to folk for country, a little too country for rock'n roll..."
That's how Ms. Laura Sterling welcomes Tim Harwill to the stage every night on the road. As far as first impressions go, this is quite possibly the most accurate. Tim is a little too folk for country, and a little too country for rock and roll; his deep drawling voice might fool you, though. I had the pleasure of hosting Harwill for a Monday night gig in Yorkton, where he played to that small crowd like it was a room full of hundreds, the mark of a real professional.
His latest release, Somethings Old, New, Borrowed, & True, was recorded live at the Rebas Cafe in Toronto, ON. This session captures unparalleled passion and energy, but also shows Harwill's consistency as a performer. He pounds away on his 12-string and his rough western voice slings clever lyrics.
This live set features songs old, new, and unreleased, as well as a few covers by Harwill's heroes Steve Young and James Talley. I suppose that's where the title comes from. The short anecdotes that Harwill shares at the beginning of each song helps bring context to the stories that he tells, which is important for such personal tales. He is one of a shrinking number of performers who aren't afraid to reveal intimate details of their lives to an audience, creating an electrifying connection from entertainer to listener.
Somethings Old, New, Borrowed, & True is available for purchase on iTunes and you can find out more about Tim Harwill and where he's traveling to next at www.timharwill.com