Within the first few moments of the new Heartless Bastards record The Mountain, I was completely captivated by the dynamic voice of lead singer Erika Wennerstrom. Her voice has a sorrowful, yet timeless quality that is perfect for the bands throwback, countrified blues-rock.
The most impressive part about her voice is the effortless range with which she commands it. On songs like “The Mountain” and “Hold Your Head High” she wields her lonesome howl with near pitch-perfect precision, and when accompanied with the sorrowful twang of the slide guitar it completely tugs at the heartstrings. “Out at Sea” is a catchy number fueled by rocking dual guitar riffs and a powerful rhythm section that opens up Erika's vocal duality, only further exemplified by “Early in the Morning”, a lighting bolt of a song driven by chugging guitars that showcases the rock 'n' roll growl in Erika’s vocal range.
Half way through the album, The Heartless Bastards add some other instruments to their songs including the zeppelin-esque mandolin in “Wide Awake”, which is a perfect addition to the marching band drums and Erika’s Robert Plant-like holler that seems at it’s best here. “So Quiet” is an old-time number with a lush string section and amazing, heartbreakingly beautiful vocals. “Had to go” is an epic gothic country song set amidst banjos, fiddles and acoustic guitar strums that makes for a dark yet delectable song.
All in all, this is an impressive third album for a band not only with a powerhouse lead vocalist, but one who is stronger for being the sum of it's many great parts. With a tight rhythm section and delicate touch for both the old and new, The Bastards are able to genre jump seamlessly from guitar driven rock to dusty banjo laden country tunes on The Mountain without skipping a beat.