Heat Shy - Curtis (Cover Artwork)

Heat Shy

Curtis (2013)


Curtis was recorded by Heat Shy nearly two years ago, with these versions almost never seeing the light of day. The 11 tracks were recorded as demos for a new project featuring Run Forever members Anthony Huebel and Tom Moran; the group debated releasing the songs because there was a possibility that they would be re-recorded later, but recently decided to release them as they were.

Huebel has been known to stray into acoustic and folk songs on Run Forever releases, but Curtis allows him to dig a big deeper into the folk/country genre. The songs range from acoustic to full-band and remain fairly cohesive throughout.

Opener "Crooked Hearts" begins with an acoustic guitar and vocals, channeling Bright Eyes perhaps, before layering synth and drums. This leads into the full-band standout "Daily Blues," about the struggle of growing bitter in life while trying to maintain a positive outlook. This is a theme that Huebel writes about heavily on Run Forever's Settling, but Heat Shy provides him with an outlet to keep the theme from becoming stagnant. Huebel and his bandmates also take advantage of the new project to try things outside the norm, and excel in doing so on the slower and darker "Tree of Spiders."

The songwriting on Curtis is simple yet thoughtful, all while demonstrating a sense of urgency. The use of metaphors to describe the subject of "Everybody Wants Theirs" takes it far beyond being a simple folk song about a girl: "She is a mountain/ caressing the clouds / gutted by man and exploited for dollar amounts / then cut down." Acoustic songs like "Weather Reports" and "Spoke Out Loud" put a focus on the songwriting and highlight Huebel's abilities.

The only real flaw with Curtis is that the songs were recorded as demos. The quality of the recordings isn't actually that bad, but it does leave a little to be desired. On some parts of the album, instruments overpower the vocals and it is difficult to understand Huebel, which is a disappointment because the album's lyrics is part of what makes it so strong. It was also recorded in an abandoned farm house and noises from outside leak in during certain songs, which adds a certain charm but may distract some listeners from the music.

Curtis is an interesting listen for fans of Run Forever, but also gives those who may not be fans of the band a chance to enjoy Huebel's songwriting talents. Hopefully the release of these songs means that Heat Shy will become more active, because this album shows a great deal of both talent and potential.