Isn’t it nice when people get straight to the point? The Drunken Hearts don’t hang about; opening the first of the ten songs that make up their new album ‘The Prize’ with Broken Things singer Andrew McConathy lustily informing us of the worn out jeans and faded dreams that accompany a hell of a ride. And so we join this Colorado-based five-piece on a trip through the vagaries of their fortunes filtered through the rich traditions of Southern Rock. It’s all here: love disappearing on a Greyhound bus, lonesome roads and lost highways, owners of broken memories and the plea that you should not let the Machines bring you down or run you out of town!
Four of the titles on offer are just one word – ‘Machines, Seasons, Greyhound, Wilderness,’ another four make it to two words. It doesn’t need to get more complicated than that; we know that life frequently sucks, but that doesn’t mean to say that telling the story can’t be hugely enjoyable. Pitching their tent in territory that is a little less Credence than Whiskey Myers and a little more Black Stone Cherry than Blackberry Smoke, The Drunken Hearts will appeal to a broad base of fans of country, rock, Americana and all manner of combinations.
The songs on ‘The Prize’ are delivered with the kind of honky-tonk playing that you would expect from a hard-working live band. There are some fabulous guitar workouts on the record, and the arrangements keep the interest level high; the brass interplay with the lead in ‘Greyhound’ is both a surprise and delight. ‘Tear My Heart Out’ has a lush acoustic start that the title would suggest before accelerating to a harmonica and electric lead finale. ‘Blacksnake’ opens with a fabulous percussive guitar riff – Imagine a Monster Truck song played by Blackfoot.
Sometimes the songs can feel a little underserved by the recording; ‘White Whale’ manages to somehow feel a little unkempt. I suspect that the stage rather than the studio is The Drunken Hearts’ forte and that these songs would sound huge live where their energy would be fully unleashed. The album might be ‘The Prize’ but the winning really comes when we get to see The Drunken Hearts deliver it in what I imagine would be a flurry of plaid, sweat, denim and beards.
No nonsense southern inspired rock and roll – a prelude for the live experience.