"WANDERLUST – 615 HIDEAWAY RECORDS (2023)
So, here it is… the long awaited sophomore album by New England Bluegrass Band, Rock Hearts. Forming a decade ago, these guys had enough time to evolve their unique sound with modern day bluegrass. Since their first album in 2020 (Starry Southern Nights), Billy Thibodeau on mandolin and Austin Scelzo on fiddle have joined the band. They are great additions to the founding members Alex MacLeod (guitar), Rick Brodsky (bass) and Joe Deetz (banjo).
This new album, “Wanderlust” has it all! Hard-driving banjo licks, heartfelt fiddle melodies, dynamic mandolin playing, stunning harmony vocals, and superb arrangements in a fine selection of songs. All with a rock solid rhythm and bass foundation. If all that wasn't good enough, we get some guest appearances by none other than, Michael Cleveland on the title track 'Wanderlust'. The great Dale Ann Bradley also adds vocals on 'Driving Nails'. And last but not least, Alex MacLeod is joined by Jonathan Edwards on his song, 'Don't Cry Blue'.
The song selection is remarkable. The band managed to form an album of ten tracks that are very consistent. These tracks in the sequence given draw and intertwine an elaborate picture all together with your own imagination, which makes the album even more enjoyable. They're not after the quick success of the first ten seconds on Spotify. Not just a random selection of songs, but a real album.
I think you’ll agree, just try the title track 'Wanderlust' by Alex McLeod and you'll get an up-tempo, hard-driving bluegrass song with great vocal arrangements. Or take, 'Cotton, Corn and Hay' by Thomm Jutz and Tom Minner. This one is a laid back tune about life on a farm with a bluesy feel. There’s also a very nicely done Merle Haggard cover, 'Today I Started Loving You Again'. The Rock Hearts definitely make it their own and fit it into the whole picture of this album, along with the instrumental, 'Butter In The Mustache' by Bill Smith.
Of course bluegrass music is a to be performed live and spontaneous in front of an audience. From the stage, the music unfolds the dynamics and drive from this genre we know and love. But still, there is something about a great and well thought out studio album. And this is exactly what these guys have managed to deliver. With the help of Stephen Mougin and Ned Luberecki and the Dark Shadow crew they have recorded a solid and conclusive album which is pure joy to listen to, straight from the first note to the last."