It is a common experience for musicians that, after spending months in the studio perfecting an album, they take to the road to promote it and find that they are playing the songs better than the versions on the disc (or so they think). It is also common for musicians to feel, in retrospect, that their original demos of songs were better than the finished studio versions. Now, fans of the Acorn can make up their own minds about these matters by listening to the "before and after" material on Heron Act, which is not a proper follow-up to the band's 2007 album Glory Hope Mountain by any means, but rather an addendum to it featuring many recordings of the same songs that they either did before the formal recording sessions ("original" or demo versions of "Flood, Pt. 2" and "Glory") or at live radio dates after the album's release ("Crooked Legs," "Even While You're Asleep," "Low Gravity," "Hold Your Breath"). There are also some other odd numbers, including an AAcorn-ized cover of the 1985 Cyndi Lauper hit "Good Enough" (aka "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough"). "It felt," say the unsigned liner notes no doubt penned by bandleader Rolf Klausener, "like ghm (Glory Hope Mountain) was mostly finished, never done," and that's what seven months in a basement studio can feel like. "We weren't thinking about what these songs would become once we started playing them live," the notes add. What they seem to have become is somewhat more forceful, with a group sound, including the addition of Shaun Weadick to make a sextet, not unlike what late Talking Heads might have sounded like if fronted by Television's Tom Verlaine instead of David Byrne. Heron Act certainly doesn't supplant Glory Hope Mountain, but it does provide fans with an alternate look, and it's more like the Acorn as heard in concert than in the basement.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann