REVIEW: The Wandering Hearts – ‘Burning Bridges’ EP

This recently released EP, Burning Bridges, should confirm The Wandering Hearts as 2017’s top new UK alt. country band. Though consisting of only four songs it is an outstanding demonstration of the group’s talent in songwriting, musicianship and above all, harmonies.

As with any artist finding a new audience the inevitable comparisons pop up everywhere. Being UK, a boy/girl duo, (two, this time) drawing on strong country influences singing with some beautiful harmonies the Wandering Hearts are described as the next Shires. For the more enthusiastically minded that has extended to Little Big Town. I wouldn’t contest either of those parallels but to my mind The Wandering Hearts have deeper roots. At times, they sound as if they could trace their heritage right back to the 1960s. There is a substance about them that goes beyond a specific label such as ‘country’. For four Brits, The Wandering Hearts have a very strong US feel. They could have lived very happily in Laurel Canyon.

Anyway, enough of comparisons. Above all, The Wandering Hearts have originality. They aren’t copies and will plough their own furrow. Burning Bridges is a bit different to their previous two releases. It is certainly a more mellow exploration of their talents than the powerful ‘Devil’. Interestingly, the songs are among the group’s earliest compositions.

The title track opens quietly with a gentle guitar leading into the perfectly modulated vocals of Chess Whiffin and Tara Wilcox. Then they link up in glorious harmony with AJ Dean-Revington and Tim Prottey-Jones. The song’s relatively upbeat pace belies some dark lyrics as the title might suggest. The band describe it as a song about looking for hope in a world where you feel alone and don’t know who to trust.

Chess and Tara lead ‘Nobody’s Fool’, blending harmonies with some punchy vocals. Whoever messed them around won’t do that again. This song seems the closest link to their previous releases and to the Little Big Town sound.

The tempo slows for ‘Never Expected This’. Here’s where the decades drop away and as you close your eyes, listen to the lyrics and become immersed in those harmonies, you could be back on the west coast of 50 years ago. This song itself isn’t nostalgia but a very contemporary take but those two guys do have a bit of CSNY about them. For my money, this is the EP’s #1 track.

For accomplished songwriters releasing such a short EP to include a cover seems odd but ‘No-one’s Gonna Love You’ by The Band of Horses does not feel out of place. It’s the folkiest track, and if the aim was to cover a song that demonstrates their own talents, this is a good choice. The four sing in perfect harmony before each peels off in their own direction. Back to the 60’s again, is that the Mama and Papas I heard there?

In Burning Bridges The Wandering Hearts demonstrate how they so thoroughly deserve their Bob Harris Emerging Artist Award. All we need now is a full album of the same please. Hopefully that will come early next year.

Lyndon Bolton