Saturday, 12 January 2019

America - Hearts (1975)

  

Released March 1975

Again, Beatles production pair George Martin and Geoff Emerick were employed in this, America's fifth album. The previous one, 1974's "Holiday" had been very influenced by Paul McCartney and Wings. This one, on quite a few tracks, sees America sounding more like they did in the early seventies, but with a bit of mid-seventies pop/rock polish applied. It is a classy pop/rock album with elements of folk rock still quite prevalent.

TRACK LISTING

1. Daisy Jane
2. Half A Man
3. Midnight
4. Bell Tree
5. Old Virginia
6. People In The Valley
7. Company
8. Woman Tonight
9. The Story Of A Teenager
10. Sister Golden Hair
11.Tomorrow
12. Seasons

"Daisy Jane" is a reflective, low-key, beautiful piano ballad with a soft rock backing the chorus. It has a winning AOR feel to it. "Half A Man" is a solid, chugger of a rock number with another of those Wings ambiences present. It features some good guitar in places and even gets a bit funky and wah-wah in places. You certainly wouldn't mark it down as being America. "Midnight" is far more what you would expect from the group - a light, breezy, acoustic piece of gentle folk rock. The same applies to the very MOR and tender "Bell Tree". The laid-back mood continues on "Old Virginia" - a very CSNY/Band-influenced peaceful slice of folk rock.

The soporific mood is lifted by the clunky piano-driven "People in The Valley". Some trademark America harmonies are retained though. There is also a virtual a capella vocal harmony part before some excellent electric guitar kicks in. It is a beguiling track. "Company" takes you back to the early seventies in its airy, breezy, melodious sound. It features some lovely percussion rhythm. It could easily be from the group's debut album. There is an excellent electric guitar solo at the end too. "Woman Tonight" is semi-funky and very Steely Dan in style, with some captivating percussion. There is a bit of the same sort of guitar Steely Dan used on 1976's "Haitian Divorce" right at the end.

"The Story Of A Teenager" is a sad song with a tuneful AOR backing, reminiscent a bit of Al Stewart or even Supertramp, in places. "Sister Golden Hair" was a popular single and it was a rousing country rocker with hints of The Eagles and also some Byrds guitar and a George Harrison riff at the beginning. It is the strongest, rockiest song on the album. It married America's well-known early style with mid-seventies driving AOR. "Tomorrow" is plaintively beautiful, backed by a light organ sound and some fetching strings. "Seasons" is very folk rock-ish and actually sounds like Steeleye Span or The Strawbs in places. This was a pleasant album, although it was, I guess, becoming increasingly clear that America's style of music, however much it was dressed up with various production techniques, was very much unique to the early/mid seventies. By 1975, the group's best years were behind them, but the five albums between 1971-75 were not half bad.

B-

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