Vandaveer's third album, Dig Down Deep, does just that -- deep, perhaps in reference to their Southern roots.
Mark Charles Heidinger's Kentucky roots find their way throughout the record, perfectly complemented by Rose Guerin's vocals, which sound like sweetened tea. There is something so strangely familiar in Heidinger's voice -- I immediately I think of contemporaries Elvis Perkins, Eddie Vedder, Damien Rice -- but maybe the familiarity comes from the songwriting and storytelling.
Heidinger has a way of telling the story of heartache and loss, of love and truth in such a personal way that you feel like you can trust him. He's a friend, he knows how it is, he's been through it. Guerin is more than just extra harmony; she adds the needed tenderness of a female, the maternal loveliness that makes the music of Vandaveer -- at Brick By Brick Thursday night --- so emotive and rich.
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The pair have weathered the full impact of love in all its forms and have emerged gentle, despite it all. It's not that it's joyful -- Dig Down Deep is so introspective that it's pulling apart everything, leaving very little unexposed. Past wounds, mourning -- all the complicated stuff -- churned out so carefully and spread out on the floor like pieces to a puzzle, laid about like tapestry of great Americana. There are ghosts of soul in songs like "The Great Gray," a dark ballad that repeats, "Death is here," and manages to make it sound sexy. "Spite" is a quick-paced folk song, while "Dig Down Deep" sounds expansive and epic -- patriotic, even.
They'll be opening for the prolific Melissa Ferrick. Her latest record, Still Right Here, is a culmination of years worth of self-exploration. She's got an impressive body of work, boasting more than 16 records that she self-released throughout the years. She also has a refined understanding of herself and her music. Still Right Here is about not running away from things but embracing them. Ferrick has been making music for nearly 20 years, but Still Right Here was her first release in five. She's still brave enough to be earnest about her fears, and about love and loss -- yet it doesn't lose its depth, although it's still pop music, with palpable energy throughout. It seems that energy paid off for Ferrick, because she debuted at No. 35 on the Billboard charts, with a little help from such guests as Ani DiFranco and Kaki King. Sounds like Ferrick is in her prime.
You can check out Vandaveer and Ferrick on Oct. 20 at Brick by Brick. Get your tickets here.