The Head and the Heart is a lackluster mélange of vaguely old-time instrumentation, wan gospel harmonies, and heart-always-on-sleeve songwriting. Jon Russell and Josiah Johnson trade off lead vocals, each trying to out-earnest the other, while Charity Thielen's violin traces placid swirls around the melodies. But it's Kenny Hensley's piano that distinguishes the band and broadens their palette, for better or worse. He injects some much-needed pomp into "Ghosts" and "Heaven Go Easy on Me", goosing these songs out of their tasteful torpor. On the other hand, he constantly falls back on the tactic of repeating chords to convey general drama, which recalls Coldplay more than Tin Pan Alley.
The Head and the Heart, overly earnest? Say it ain't so!