The Brown Hound James Gang - At The Home of the Heartlands (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Brown Hound James Gang

At The Home of the Heartlands (2012)

Bombed Out Records

During "Heart in Your Singing" Matt Broadbent sings "Put some fire in your belly / Put some heart in your singing," which is something that he quite clearly does across this album, creating an evocative and emotional trip through a number of genres that steer well clear from his previous work, most notably in Dugong.

With influences such as country, blues and folk helping to mold these songs, it's down to Broadbent's soulful vocal delivery to add the icing on the cake, with tales that tug at heartstrings and stories that are far from unique, allowing the listener to feel as if the songs are somehow personal to them. With a wide variety of musicians helping Broadbent and Ray Tovey (producer, engineer and musician on this release), there's a sense of community that adds to the sense of despite these being the songs of one man, they are there for all to share and enjoy in whatever way they see fit.

"Just Like The Old Man Said" has the feel of a Waterboys song, with strong acoustic guitars and a sense of soul to boot. This is one of those songs that is immediately able to get you into a positive mood as it has a vibrancy that carries you along as if it's a huge wave which is impossible to get out of the way of.

Despite the overall acoustic feel here, "Lonely" opens with an uptempo electric guitar full of warmth and a bit of pace with the end result being one of my favorite tracks on this album. "Queen Josephine" has a Celtic quality that is both haunting and inviting in equal measures, and is yet another example of how good Broadbent's songwriting gets.

Broadbent and co. have produced an album that is dripping with emotion and laced with melancholy, yet never once does it verge on being maudlin and all with some wonderful musicianship and vocals, delivering tale after tale.

It might be difficult to fully convey how this record sounds but there are moments that bring to mind a variety of bands including the likes of Squeeze, the Jayhawks and even Deacon Blue yet it never sounds vaguely commercial. I've really struggled with writing this review as I really like this record (it's very good), but I've not been able to find the words that I feel suitably convey how good it actually is. For that I apologize to you, the reader, the band and the label but suffice to say, At The Home of the Heartlands is one of those records that delivers time and time again in so many different ways.