The Drunken Hearts: “The Prize” Album Review
The Drunken Hearts: The Prize
The Drunken Hearts recently released their third album, The Prize. Recorded in Colorado, the home of the Drunken Hearts, and mixed and produced by Todd Divel of the Hard Working Americans, The Prize was also fan-funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign.
I gave The Prize a casual listen when it first came out but hadn’t yet gotten to know it. My first impression was a solid effort with more than a few songs sticking with me. Certainly, it was a collection that was going to warrant some serious listening.
Before diving fully into the third album, however, I decided to go back and re-listen to their first full-length release, Live For Today. Released in 2012 and produced by Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth, Live For Today endures as a powerful debut. It gives the feel of an Americana-Folk band with a firm grasp on memorable songwriting and a bright future ahead of them.
With the tunes from The Drunken Hearts’ debut still bouncing in my head, I jumped back into The Prize.
T he first thing that I noticed is that I was no longer listening to an Americana-Folk band. The Prize is an album from a band that has grit and rawness, but still a melodic touch and even a little sweetness hiding under there.
The next thing I immediately became aware of is that labels such as “Americana-Folk” are no longer going to be relevantly applied to The Drunken Hearts.
The Drunken Hearts’ website refers to the Hearts as “Electrifying American Rock.”
This is a closer description, as anyone who has seen the Drunken Hearts live knows that they certainly can and do rock.
From the opening notes of “Broken Things” and into the dark and gritty ‘Black Snake,” The Prize certainly embodies this side of the Drunken Hearts. It then takes us on a journey through the gently melodic “Wilderness,” sending an early message that this album is not going to be one dimensional.
Through the upbeat “White Whale” you’ll find your feet tapping as you sing along with this catchy banjo tune, reminding us that this band has more than a few layers. By the time I’d gotten through “Greyhound” and “Bed of Stone,” I was less able to describe the sound of the Drunken Hearts than I could before.
From song to song, what sticks with me about The Prize are the contrasts between each one. There is a flow, without a doubt, but no two tracks maintain the same style.
With lines like “just another donor of a fallen down dream,” “Tear My Heart Out” is a beautifully painful ballad but still manages to move my feet in the end. “Heart Strings” keeps them moving by showing that The Prize can get funky as well.
By the time “Machines” turns on the rock edge once again and “Seasons” takes us out with another powerfully heartfelt ballad, it is clear that the Drunken Hearts have evolved beyond simple labels. While “Electrifying American Rock” may be a closer attempt than I can muster, it does not give this album enough justice.
To truly search for the sound of The Drunken Hearts, listen to the differences between the songs, those contrasts.
This is where the Drunken Hearts are defined.
Simply put, the Drunken Hearts now sound like the Drunken Hearts.
That sound, along with the energy and emotion of the Drunken Hearts, is captured beautifully on The Prize.
The Drunken Hearts are:
Andrew McConathy | Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Jon McCartan | Bass, Vocals
Cody Russell | Pedal and Lap Steel, Banjo
Kory Montgomery | Electric guitar, Vocals
Alex Johnson | Drums