High Road “Straight From The Heart” (LP)

Retrospection, both poetic and aesthetical the same, has been the greater theme of country in the gospel slot this past year, but while they aren’t rejecting this trend in their new album Straight from the Heart, High Road can’t be accused of trying to blend in with a crowd here, either. Straight from the Heart’s most provocative elements are also its most forward-thinking, and while there aren’t as many virtuosities as there are bold experiments in tonality and texture alike, High Road’s work in songs like “Keep Your Lamps” and “When I Lift Up My Head” alone make them sound like a band quickly outgrowing the scene which started their story.

URL: https://www.highroadmusic.com/

The pressurized mix we hear in the tracks “Through You,” “That’s What Love Is” and “Only in the Cross” highlight the beauty of the unassuming vocal decadence each of these songs contains. Though it’s not a look that every group can wear well, the dense amalgamation of sonic entities here spikes the tension in the best possible way. We’re on the edge of our seats from beginning to end in Straight from the Heart, but never because of any negatively unpredictable components plenty of other bands could just as soon design an entire LP around.

I would never call Straight from the Heart a throwback record, but it’s showing off some of the more radiant post-bluegrass love that I’ve heard in any modern record over the past year. I’d like High Road to dig into the sound of “That’s What Love Is,” “When I Lift Up My Head” and “Sing a Hallelujah” even more in their next record, and if the fans have a response similar to my own upon hearing these tracks played live and in person in the future, I would expect them to serve as the cornerstone of this band’s trademark style of play.

I-TUNES: https://music.apple.com/us/album/somewhere-im-going/1163852743

From a lyrical point of view, Straight from the Heart is amazing and one of the more multi-interpretive albums to spare us a barren emotional narrative at the core of its cryptic poetry, and I would point you towards “There is a Rock,” “Working on a Building” and “There’s a River” in support of this argument. There’s a lot of heart here, but it’s not so personal a collection of songs that we feel as though we’re listening to a musical version of someone’s private diary.

If solid Christian country with a complex way of speaking to its audience is your thing, I believe High Road’s Straight from the Heart is worth a go this May. I must admit that I probably played it a good eight or nine times through without any outside influences before I understood some of the different angles the band was exploiting in their creation of this effort, but with each of these listening sessions, I also uncovered more detail about who this group is and what they want their sound to consist of. This isn’t the last we’ll hear from them, and I think Straight from the Heart could potentially be the tip of the creative iceberg coming into focus soon.

Mark Druery