The new A.A. Bondy record that I’ve been excited about and hyping for months now, American Hearts, will be released by Superphonic Records on September 18th. I am happy to report that it far exceeds all expectations I had set for it after hearing Bondy live when he opened for Bright Eyes in New York earlier this year and from the advance tracks that have been floating around the web for so long now. This is easily the best singer/songwriter record I’ve heard this year and will undoubtedly find a lofty place among my favorite albums come year’s end.
Bondy splits the album between finger-picked, singer-songwriter material and spacious full band songs. His voice is perhaps his greatest asset - full of Southern cracks and consistently working on such a dry, intimate level. His lyrics deftly intertwine love, politics, society, and drugs to become something universally appealing and possess a poetic world weariness that betrays his youth. As much as this is a folk singer record though, it also makes clear a definite influence from the traditional acoustic blues of the South. Album opener “How Will You Meet Your End” and “Killed Myself When I Was Young” are pure folk-blues, and images of drugs (“Vice Rag”) and drowning (“Of The Sea”) populate the album and demonstrate the weariness that Bondy’s vocals project.
After the first 10 songs American Hearts would have been a stunning debut, but the record’s final 2 elevate it to more than just a great singer-songwriter album to one of the year’s best of any genre. The chorus of the beautiful “Witness Blues” (“and once there was a time to join the army, and once there was a time to hear the news, and once there was a time for easy silence, but now the jury waits for you”) could be his generation’s “Blowin’ In The Wind”. Then comes the haunting, elegiac album closer “Of The Sea”, which turns the bottom of the ocean into a place of escape from the problems of the world alluded to in “Witness Blues”. Bondy sounds completely at peace as he dreams of his getaway, sinking through the depths hand in hand with his love.
MP3 :: There’s A Reason
MP3 :: Vice Rag
(from American Hearts. Buy here)
According to a source at the label Bondy has recorded quite a bit of material over the past year or so that was scrapped in favor of the songs on American Hearts. Some songs may turn up eventually as extras/b-sides/exclusives/whatever for future releases, but here are 2 new ones, including a brilliant reinvention of Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire”.
MP3 :: I’m On Fire
MP3 :: For The Kingdom
(from sessions for American Hearts)