Daniel Amos

Songs of the Heart: The Story of Bud and Irma Akendorf

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One of their more difficult releases, Songs of the Heart is a concept album based on the lives of the fictional characters Bud and Irma Akendorf. The prominent mood here is dark regardless of the happy cover. Less abrasive than 1994's Bible Land, and much less accessible than 1993's Motor Cycle, this record is a bit of a puzzle. Taylor's voice, normally very dynamic, is here subdued and static. Most of the record is very bass-heavy, with very little in the way of high range counterpoint melody. He seldom goes above his regular speaking range. Lots of nostalgic imagery in the liner notes compliment the regionalisms in the songs. The opening tune is a cover of the Frankie Valli classic "Can't Keep My Eyes Off of You," which too is understated and drony. Nice accordion work by Greg Flesch on "Glory Road" and "Get Into the Bus, Aloha." Stunning vocal stylings on "My Hand to God," where Bud says a last dying goodbye to Irma; Taylor's delivery is subdued, desparate, gasping for breath -- an emotional conclusion to a confusing but enjoyable record.

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