You’ve heard the saying “music is the soundtrack of your life”. This phrase came to mind as I began to scratch the surface of the latest CD by Rawlins Cross, Heart Head Hands. For at least the last 20 years, their music has been a mainstay in our home and car. Even during their hiatus, the familiar words and sounds flowed. And when the band reunited 2 years ago it was a family celebration of sorts as we rejoiced in those long loved and distinct tunes that were an intricate part of our lives through the years. And so it continues with the band’s 8th full length studio album.
Joey Kitson sets things in motion with “High Tide”, leaving no doubt that this band has still got it in true Rawlins Cross style. A great song that would be radio friendly across the east coast and beyond. It’s easy to understand why “Grandmother’s Song” has been the first cut to catch the attention of listeners including high-ranking political figures. The band performed the song during the Queen’s visit last June and shortly after, they received a request from Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the sheet music. For those of us fortunate to have memories of a wonderful and wise grandmother this is truly an ode to their enduring lessons. Nothing less expected from Dave Panting. “Open Skies Medley” begins with a dramatic guitar wale, heavy on percussion continuing with a lively swirl of whistle and guitar with a back beat and on to a resounding close. Lovely!
Not a fiddle to be heard among this lot but leave it to Rawlins Cross to bring a story of player and instrument to life in the title cut. Heart Head Hands will have you singing along instantly. The exquisite performance and prominently featured whistle throughout on this cut alone shows the second to none collaborative prowess that is Rawlins Cross.
The lively set of Reels, Jigs, and Singles are guaranteed to get those toes tapping as only Rawlins Cross can put their stamp on traditional and contemporary celtic instrumentals. And I defy you to listen to Demons and not recognize true genius as both the play on words and the musical arrangements come together for a wicked combination, definitely one of my favorites of this collection. It’s a little nostalgia as the 1993 Geoff Panting penned “Nightfall” is included once again and rightly so, a time-honored favorite.
Things get a little heavier with the rock induced sound that is “Kingdom Come”. A perfect blend of traditional meets new age that joins the Kitson vocals meant for this song, together with the guitar/pipes rhythm for one fabulous combination. Heart Head Hands just would not be complete with the introspective “Questions” as only the mind of Geoff Panting would deliver. Perfection.
And as if that were not enough, it is followed up with the wistful “Beaumont Waltz”. Words would never do this combination justice. It is just meant to be appreciated. “Back To Brazil” is simply a fun way to close things out and does so with class.
Heart Head Hands, some of the band’s first material in 10 years will stand strong among their most beloved archives. Each member of the ensemble is showcased throughout, in so many ways, from vocals, instrumentation, collaboration and producing. Rawlins Cross fans can rest assured that this long-awaited collection was more than worth the wait! Pure Magic.