About a year ago I decided to end my love affairs with sad troubadours. I was sonically involved with six of them, and romantically involved with one of them. It got to the point of overload, so I decided to go in a completely opposite direction for a while ("single girl who listens to math rock, jangly indie rock, and weirdo electronica"). I've been troubadour-free and happy since then, but now that I've listened to AA Bondy I am back on the sad wagon. I'm perfectly fine with this because there's really something to be said for a musician who can go into a barn with a handful of songs, a few instruments, and two microphones, and emerge with a great album. Bondy emerged in this respect with American Hearts.
Bondy dives into a few musical territories on this album. The opening song, "How Will You Meet Your End," is bluesy with handclaps, some slide, and well-matched acoustic guitar and vocals (the album's staples). "Killed Myself When I Was Young" is gutbucket blues with a call-and-response chorus. "No Man Shall" is pure Americana, with electric guitars, drums, harmonica, and a stoned country vibe. The title track and "Witness Blues" conjure up a '60s protest vibe and explain why Bondy has received comparisons to Dylan.
Religion is a theme that is explored throughout the album, but it's hard to tell if Bondy is working through an esoteric spiritual crisis on this record or if he's just toying with themes. After listening to "Vice Rag" (a song where he actually plays a rag), I decided not to take the religious ponderings on this album too seriously. "Sweet, sweet cocaine," he sings, "Won't you be all mine / Heart'll pound, my hands will shake / I'm doin' mighty fine."
Besides religion, war and drugs, Bondy also dives into love. On this subject he manages to be depressing and uplifting all at once (a sign of a talented troubadour). It's as though star-crossed lovers acted as his muses. In "There's A Reason" he sings "And it's love that's tearing them down / And it's love that turns them around." The album's final song "Of The Sea," with its quiet guitar and casually played piano that are joined with backing vocals and a harmonica during the chorus, begins with "Give me your hand / And I'll take you down / Oh can't you see that I'm dying to drown / And don't hold your breath, my dear." Are you on the sad wagon with me right now?
If Bondy's name or voice sounds familiar, it's probably because of the years he spent with Verbena. You might recall that Dave Grohl produced Vebena's major label debut, and you might hear a touch of Nirvana on this album. Not original Nirvana, but the Meat Puppet covers the band did during Unplugged. The songs "Killed Myself When I Was Young" and "Vice Rag" both hint at Kurt's vocals during those songs.
If any of these songs or this release sounds familiar, it's probably because this album was originally released by Supersonic back in September 2007. Fat Possum decided to re-release the album and take it to a wider audience, and after listening to it you might just decide to send them a tear-drenched thank you note for it.
MP3 Downlaod - "There's A Reason"