British folk has evolved over the years. The 21st century brought with it a new phase of this genre embraced by Hegarty, a rock quintet from Liverpool, England. The five-piece band has a touch of Rod Stewart’s smoky voicing à la “Mandy.” Fused with the folksy sensibilities of The Frames – their hit song “Falling Slowly” comes to mind – and saddled in a Mumford and Sons rootsy rock chassis that catapulted their pop single “I Will Wait,” Hegarty’s latest recording, Selling Your Soul to Sanity, persists in the indie rock format. It is both sonically expressive and emotionally impelling.
The guitar riffs of lead vocalist Dave Hegarty and Igga Cousins whittle catacombs along the rollicking waves of bass guitarist Chris McKeon and drummer Waka Staff through “Drifting, Slowly Sinking,” as the melodic doodles of Alex Tweedle’s piano keys add elevation to the track. The airy bluster in the instrumentation has a contemplative bent, (mentally) whisking the listener away.
The lean guitar chords of “Stanley’s Song” have a feathery brush and then change to a prairieland-country twang in “I Only Dream in Black and White.” The singalong lyrics are complemented by a catchy rhythmic pulse as Hegarty muses, “I see the sunset / On the horizon / It’s not surprising / That I’m all alone … Sometimes you have to be submerged in darkness / To see the light / I only dream in black and white / It’s alright.”
The pensive vocal strokes of “Even the Joker Cries Sometimes” build up slowly, supported by the soft seething of the guitars and drums, creating a misty sheen through the melody. “Time on Our Hands” soars and ebbs along the melodic swells at a speed that mirrors the human breath, inhaling and exhaling at a comfortable pace.
Dark and slightly stormy in the vocal timbres and guitar vibrations, “Redemption Can’t Be Found” has a haunting tone that is intense and foreboding akin to Hozier. The bellowing thrusts of the drums and guitars rumbling along “Broken Soul” inflame the track to a power rock level; they transition to an easy-listening country folk throttle in “Lonely for Too Long,” as Cousins’ harmonica carves out peaks along the track.
Spurned from British folk, Hegarty is riding the wave to the movement’s new summit. Selling Your Soul to Sanity advances folk music to global statue. Another British band becoming a household name could be in the cards for Hegarty.
Dave Hegarty – rhythm guitar and vocals, Waka Staff – drums, Chris McKeon – bass guitar and backing vocals, Igga Cousins – backing vocals, harmonica, and lead and rhythm guitars, Alex Tweedle – piano, synths, and backing vocals