Ha Ha Tonka Shines on Latest Release

Posted by Greg on Mar 10, 2017 in Music |

Now that spring is finally creeping its way into the frame, it’s time to find some tunes to welcome the vernal season. Enter Ha Ha Tonka’s effervescent and near flawless fifth album Heart-Shaped Mountain. Packed with ten instantly hummable efforts, Heart-Shaped Mountain is as strong an effort as any released this year.

The Missouri five-piece have crafted an album that shakes and shimmies in all the right places. Whether its the breezy and buoyant “The Party” or the driving opener “Race to to the Bottom,” Heart-Shaped Mountain is Ha Ha Tonka at their absolute best. Rumbling highway song “Arkansas” evokes shades of Dire Straits with both its humor and its swerve, while the rousing piano boogie “Land Beyond” finds the band charting new territory while still remaining danceable. The album’s most winning moments include the harmony-soaked “Height Of My Fears” and the life-firming “Going That Way.”

Concise, crisp and content, Heart-Shaped Mountain soars on the open-hearted chiming of “Everything” and the doe-eyed valentine “All With You.” The aforementioned “Going That Way” revisits the same sonic territory as both “Everything” and “All With You” but goes a bit farther, resulting in a damn near perfect road trip song.

Heart Shaped Mountain’s two most restrained efforts come at the end and find the band hitting a creative sweet spot in the most inspiring of ways. The jangly campfire ditty “Favor,” implores the listener to detach from technology and welcome life as it comes, while the yearning ballad “Telluride,” embraces a new year with optimism and perhaps a twinge of nostalgia.

From start to finish, Heart Shaped Mountain zigs and zags evoking the likes of Springsteen, Petty and even a little Big Star. Drenched in optimism, clarity and conviction, the album is just the right tonic for a nation marred by division, hostility and resentment. Perhaps the best thing about Heart-Shaped Mountain is that the album feels loose, energetic and fun. This isn’t a band trying too hard to be cool or worrying about pretense and art. This is a band letting their hair down, soaking in the sun and enjoying the ride. In short, there need to be more albums like Heart-Shaped Mountain. Then again, if there were, Heart-Shaped Mountain would not be nearly as refreshing, resplendent and rewarding as it is. And for that, the music world is eternally grateful.

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