Friday 20 October 2023

Album Review: The Heart Collectors - The Space Between

The Heart Collectors are a four-piece Australian band adept at creating a unique and distinctive sound. They focus on a tightly spun ethereal sonic template that matches largely acoustic charm with a blend of individually dealt vocals and harmonies that are secure to the core. Their latest record creatively titled THE SPACE BETWEEN possesses multiple strands as the band stir together a melange of new tracks, a trio of fan favourite covers recorded live, and a couple of older songs reworked from an unavailable previous album.

Before dipping into the recorded fare, the striking album cover evokes the spiritual vibes emanating from the music and sets the scene perfectly for what is about to be sampled. A case of bracing artisanship all round. 

The shortest of the three segments is placed as a pairing at the centre point of the album, which stretches to a 54-minute running time. 'Stand Up' is the first of the re-worked older tracks with violin, cello and mandolin detected as key components in a song symbolic to what is generally created. 'Hold On' follows in a similar vein to catch a flavour of the band's past. 

It is probably right to tag the three covers onto the end. The band are proud of how these key influential songs have become ingrained in what they do and resonate well with fans. The trio are led by 'Helplessly Hoping' a song from an era dear to the heart of the band. There are definitely late 60s swirling vibes across the piece. 'Woodstock' gets another notch on the lengthy list of versions out there and Paul Simon's mid 60s effort 'Kathy's Song' completes the homage to architects from a distant age, though relevant in influence. 

On this, The Heart Collectors 5th studio album, the rump of the record is the eight new tracks straddling the re-works in the running order. With the band looking at fresh horizons in the promotion of the record, this set is key to showing what they are all about.

The absolute album standout is 'Sirius B' possessing one of the most drooling atmospheric intros you are likely to encounter this year, or any other as a matter of fact. The melting twangy sound is one to die for and a cinematic imagination is let free to run amok once this pleasure lands on the listener. This delectable track unveils as a near 6-minute moment of bliss. Another song that catches the ear as a memorable interaction is 'Rocky Mountain', which re-ignites the new collection after the re-worked pair. This is one of the more folky offerings with banjo leading the way. A different vocal perspective revitalises the album at a suitable point and points the compass in an American roots direction. 

On what is an album that needs a few spins to grasp its entirety, the two opening tracks play an important part in framing the musical narrative. 'Energy' is the apt name for the lead off piece as it is full to the brim with kinetic listener engagement. This slips into 'Evergreen' that shines a light on the harmony parts adding to a full-on sound circulating in various directions. 

'Travellers' and 'Where the Light Rests' are paired just before the covers flood in with the former rolling out as a foot tapping mover bestowed with the vocal elegance that lives and breathes in each track. The latter is a toned down piano-led ballad awash with gorgeous vibes that highlight the versatility of The Heart Collectors. 

The two remaining pieces have the tough task of following the aforementioned standout. 'No Separation' gently rises without truly creating the waves of what is dealt elsewhere, while 'The Garden' floats in an inquisitive world where a slightly mournful backdrop nestles within a sphere of hope and birth. 

The Heart Collectors are a band on a mission to share a sound that is finely curated and delicately spun creating a world of warmth and comfort. THE SPACE BETWEEN requires a significant investment to grasp the big picture. Snippets can easily be pulled out to frame the moment, but hanging in for the entirety sheds a different complexion on what is set out to be achieved and ultimately pulled off.