The Cohesive Coming-Of-Age Narrative in The Head and The Heart
The Head and the Heart’s self-titled album ties together a narrative about leaving behind home, family, and childhood and just breaking out of your comfort zone in general to move onto bigger things in a completely different life. The songs follow someone going through these stages of life and they create appropriate moods for each one.
The album starts off on a cheerful and playful tone held up by bright piano pop melodies and upbeat acoustic guitar strumming. The first few tracks explore the idea of following new directions in life like in the opener “Cats and Dogs” (“And my thoughts are diggin’ in the backyard/My roots have grown but I don’t know where they are”).
A sense of hope is sustained until track four, “Down in the Valley,” when the mood takes a sharp turn into a more melancholic tone with a backing violin and the narrative falls into themes of separation and longing. The songs start featuring harmonies of droning male vocals and fragile female vocals to create a dissonance that adds a gloomy feel. “Rivers and Roads,” a personal highlight of the album, epitomizes all of this into a somber, yet epic song booming with emotional harmonies and lyrics about the separation and changes after pursuing new directions in life (“Been talkin’ ‘bout the way things change/And my family lives in a different state”).
For the final stretch of the album, the piano melodies become downtempo and some fingerpicking guitar melodies are added for a softer instrumentation and a more serious vibe. The track “Lost in my Mind” introduces themes of being lost and faced with self-conflict, as the title of the track states. The narrator is struggling to make out a path in this new life that he lives and he shows that he is very worried about the future with very contemplative lyrics about what is expected of him in society, like in “Winter Song” (“We’re just praying that we’re doing this right/Though that’s not the way it seems”) and in the final song “Heaven Go Easy on Me” (“Is it that the good life is the simple one”). All the songs become connected through the narrator’s transitional stages of life, representing the album as a singular cohesive work of art and a concept album.