-Greg’s Take- Russell Howard: City Heart

We’ve seen albums thrown together in a crazy all-go-no-stop few weeks; conversely we’ve seen albums take literally years to complete. Whether either is the right approach to recording is as unceasing a debate as the lifelong conundrum of top five albums of all time. Bands succeed and fail both ways.

But what happens when a well thought out plan is set in motion with everything seemingly in place and things go awry?

Calling Charlotte home, by way of Dallas, Russell Howard set out in 2010 with only the best intentions. But in the beginning it seemed things would not go according to plan. Fear not, because with the help of the masterfully talented Lawson White and an ability to roll with recording location musical chairs, Howard’s vision for City Heart came to fruition two years later.

His experience on the college touring circuit has given Howard skills to grow and learn from, but his career is really beginning to take form. His six-track EP carries tones of indie pop/rock inlaid with folk influence. Admitting that he set out to bridge the pop singer/songwriter in him with a more indie/folk sound helped Howard accomplish an identifiable sound. With a nothing-left-behind feel, he conveys a genuine passion for his art and develops an appreciation for his talent. Howard’s vocals bleed with honesty, his lyrics with originality. Striking that folk chord with lyrics like “Under the weight of life/the more I resist/the heavier it gets” he carries truth within his simply attractive songs. There is an inner folk songwriter masked in a record bathed in mainstream indie light. This creates depth and complexity in the otherwise simple seeming tracks.

He set out to craft an original sound on which a career could be built. He has done just that. Russell Howard’s City Heart is an audible sunset seen from atop city buildings, alone, considering the complexities of life and the future. As the EP comes to a close, you’ll turn to walk away, slight smile on your face, because you’ve discovered something new and you know that that sun is going to come around again tomorrow.

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