Of late, the MeWork master – aka Tyler, the Cat – has taken to waking me before the crack of dawn. C’est la vie. After serving him breakfast, rather than go back to bed, I make coffee and retire to the den, strap on the headphones and listen to an array of albums, one after the other, with the new mixed alongside old favorites. It’s a good way to greet the day, whether it’s on the weekend or, as today, during the workweek.
Joana Serrat’s Hardcore From the Heart has been one of those new albums since it’s release on June 11th and, these past few days, I’ve found myself hitting repeat again and again even more so than usual. It’s moody and mercurial, somewhat akin to how Mazzy Star might have sounded if Daniel Lanois had manned the production board or if Curve, the ‘90s-era British alternative band, had gone country. In a less theoretical sense, the dense, windswept sound reminds me of Jessie Baylin’s Little Spark – atmospheric as all get out, with vocals riding just above or below the gusts of instruments blowing forth from the horizon. Soon enough, you find yourself gliding through a dreamscape accented by darkness and only a little light. It’s an intense yet ethereal journey.
Or something like that.
Serrat, for those unaware, is a Catalan singer-songwriter who released her first album in 2012. Hardcore From the Heart is her fifth. Though there are nominal beginnings and ends throughout the 10-track set, which is ostensibly Americana, the music flows as if one piece – a bittersweet symphony, if you will, filled with longing, regret and more. Time after time, she seeks relief from heartbreak and grief. Time after time, a cacophony of guitars well up like a tsunami of tears. Time after time, she’s left bereft – until the very end, when the dark clouds hovering within her heart dissipate.
If it sounds depressing, it’s not. It’s cathartic. After the year-plus we’ve had, we all feel as if we’ve lost something (and many, of course, lost specific someones). Our lives may return to “normal,” but it won’t be the normal that once was. Hardcore From the Heart delves deep into loss and grief, but shows that a clearing will eventually be found – and does it in the best way possible. It’s a great album that grows stronger with each listen.
The track list: