Jonathan Russell should apply to become the spokesperson for Eugene’s tourism board while he’s in town.
“It’s always nice when we hit Eugene because we’re usually coming from L.A.,” says Russell, one of the singers, guitarists and percussionists for The Head and The Heart. “I’m usually barefoot and have a bandana. You can breathe. No one takes themselves too seriously, everyone hugs everybody and everyone is super supportive. It’s cool. It’s a nice contrast.”
This positive attitude permeates the music his band makes, as it blends indie folk-pop, bluegrass and Americana with pleasing vocal harmonies, courtesy of Russell, Josiah Johnson and Charity Rose Thielen. The piano-and-percussion mid-tempo bluegrass number “Lost in My Mind” is the kind of uplifting tune that will have you singing for the heavens along with the band, and on the shuffler “Sounds Like Hallelujah” you practically feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders listening to this tale of reconciliation.
The band’s eponymous full-length debut is an artfully crafted record about leaving home and finding home, a theme that is nearly universal and yet somehow never grows tired or clichéd. For the Seattle-based sextet, writing this record was a natural extension of where each of them was in life at that transitional point in time.
“Everyone that was in the band for the most part had just come home to Seattle or moved there,” Russell tells EW. “We were all going through the same [stuff] around the same time. You never really realize it until you put it all in one record. It was a common theme in our lives and friendships.”
That commonality is what makes their music shine. It is authentic and evident that all the band members are on the same page, and as a result their performances make quite an impression.
The Head and the Heart play 8 pm Wednesday, Oct. 10, at McDonald Theatre; $25.