Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
High Impedance starts off with The Dark Don’t Hide It, which is a song written by the late Jason Molina and performed by Magnolia Electric Co. Well, they immediately piqued my curiosity. That is a tough song to do as a cover since it is highly stylized and Molina’s voice was so unique. Having said all that, they nailed it. The Wayward Hearts captured the essence of the song but amended it enough to play to their own sound. The fiddles and vocals are pristine and I can listen to this song as a stand alone and not compare it to the original. They get huge props for that.
This is their follow up to their 2014 self titled EP. Musically, it is quite similar in style to the EP. That isn’t meant as a dig in anyway. Since the Ep was only four songs, High Impedance compliments it nicely and actually takes over where the EP left off. The Wayward Hearts hail from Vancouver, British Columbia and play mainly original music featuring banjo, violin and electric accordion. They have been together since the fall of 2013. The band consist of Bradley Damsgaard on lead vocals, guitar and banjo, Sarah Irwin on vocals, Emily Helsdon on violin, Jim Favaro on electric accordion, Scott Paulley on bass and Kirk Douglas on the drums.
The Waywards state that they are inspired by fine hats, Old Testament exuberance, Gothic Americana, Alphonse Mucha, tambourines, mountain music, worn-out boots, causing a ruckus and telling a good story about it. Some more noteworthy musical influences include Junior Kimbrough, 16 Horsepower, Neil Young, Nick Cave, Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams, The Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, and Lucinda Williams.
The Gothic Americana definitely comes through. Their music seems to have a bit of darkness cast over it. Not too much, just enough to make it interesting and unique. A perfect example of this is the dark and bluesy, Pick Your Weapon (Track 9). It is definitely dark, but not depressing. There is something incredibly catchy and infectious about this tune where one play will not satisfy.
The harmonies on High Impedance are lovely and stunning. No song illustrates that any better than When We’ve Arrived (Track 5). This song tells the story about being on the road and spending so much rime on the bus that you lose track of all time and location. It could have a darker meaning than that, but I would prefer to take this song at face value. Either way, this song is beautiful and another number that will played many times by me.
I am certain other favorites will surface on High Impedance as I listen more. The candidates for favorite tunes are very abundant on this album. No doubt, you will find some faves of your very own.