Unfussy in their lyricism, indie-folk band The Head and the Heart allow the raw and always intense emotions to be the driving force in their music. Now with three studio records to their credit, including 2016's glistening Signs of Light, the band--comprised of Jonathan Russell (vocals/guitar/percussion), Josiah Johnson (vocals/guitar/percussion/keys), Charity Rose Thielen (vocals/violin/percussion), Kenny Hensley (piano), Tyler Williams (drums/percussion) and Chris Zasche (bass)--allow the frankness of their pointed language to address issues of humanity, music-making and heartbreak.
This week, they continue their Signs of Light Tour across the country, hitting the mid-West before taking to the East Coast next month. The band also makes a splashy return with two upcoming shows at Coachella in April. To celebrate, AXS.com takes a look at the group's enduring songwriting to curate the five best lyrics of all time. Read on for our picks.
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"Signs of Light"
The title track to the band's third studio album is alarmingly moving. With very little accompaniment, at least at first, until the second half of the song, it is a simple rendering of heartbreak but doused with glowing optimism.
"I'll wait by your bed for signs of light
They say that you're gone, but I know you're alright
I wanna be there when you open your eyes
It's been so long, you've been barely alive"
In the aftermath of the 2012 Newtown massacre, the band was inspired to pay tribute in the best way they knew how. What results is one of their most riveting achievements, not only for themselves but for the larger music community.
"Every time I hear another story
Oh the poor boy lost his head
Everybody feels a little crazy
But we go on living with it
Yeah, they go on living with it
These are just flames
Burning in your fireplace
I hear your voice and it seems
As if it was all a dream
I wish it was all a dream"
"City of Angels
As a direct ode to Los Angeles and the struggle of working musicians, the group find solace in the music, crafting a simple yet elegant narrative about finding a hopeful purpose. And sometimes, the music-making can seem like a mirage to mask the toil and plunder the daylight hours bring.
"Salt in a wound on a warm afternoon
Sun is too bright so we wait for the night to find you
To find you...
We'd get so high telling stories at night
Was it a lie or maybe more like a dream?"
"Down in the Valley"
Between the mesmerizing, nearly acoustic arrangement to the metaphorical lyrical content, this cut from their debut album remains a stalwart reminder of their marksmanship with a pen.
"I know there's California, Oklahoma
And all of the places I ain't ever been to but
Down in the valley with
These are the places you will find me hidin'
These are the places I will always go"
Another cut on their third album, Signs of Light, speaks to their reflections on their craft. They examine their fasciation with "library magic," and creating immersive worlds through their lyrics. Easily one of their sharpest moments.
"Drawn to the sorta library magic
Whispering through the dusty aisles
Watching all the thinkers read
Trying to keep a grown man quiet's like
Pulling teeth on a winters eve
Cracks and poles and unfamiliar roads
I'm on this one to find out