Years in the Great Interior
Album cover by Katherine Newbegin (photo) and Becky Nasadowski (design)
While the Lonelyhearts performed at Mission Creek Festival, I told our intrepid publisher Matt Steele “You can’t beat English Majors for songwriters.” People who believe too much in the primacy of words sometimes lose touch with the music, but The Lonelyhearts keep things well in balance. The keening edge of John Lindenbaum’s voice expresses the part of the yearning that would be lost in between the bare words. Andre Perry is, of course, multi-talented (full disclosure: he’s written for Little Village on and off, and as a founding producer of Mission Creek Festival and executive director of the Englert Theatre he often works closely with us) and his resonant, lower-pitched voice adds its own wry spin, both as lead singer and singing harmony.
“He’s given up, drives mom berserk, but a father’s still a father even if his heart won’t work,” Andre sings in “Welcome Center Lorain” and it’s a main strength of the Lonelyhearts’ lyrics: conversational, succinct, complete sentences that say more than they seem to at first. The melodies are kept pretty plain but well furnished with evocative chord changes.
“The drinks were strong enough to blur the blather of coke speak. Faces grew sour and tempers hot,” from “The California Oak Mortality Task Force” sums up a certain kind of party gone wrong. The rest of the song mixes trees dying and relationships coming unraveled with a simplistic beat and synth grind, filigreed with finger-picked guitar. There’s not much drumming here, which gives the songs a certain West Coast pop-rock mellowness that never goes limp.
Is Years in the Great Interior a collection of autobiographical short stories set to music, or songs with literary ambition? Both and neither. While you can talk about the music and words separately, they’re really inseparable parts of the whole. Music bypassess the intellect and goes straight to the heart, but the words refine and hone the edge of the feeling. There’s a distinct emotional flavor to this album but don’t ask me to explain. Its best expression is this 39-minute collection of songs.
Kent Williams is do you like me?  yes  no