Haunted Hearts – [Album]

Sunday, 18 October 2009

At the end of every break-up, there is always that moment when, finally sick of drowning his sorrows, crying into his beer and generally feeling sorry for himself, a man – every man – will start trying desperately to find something to laugh about (even if it's bitterly self-deprecating laughter) and try to inhabit a moment that seems to make life worth living. It's always a boozy truth, but it's also an important one because it signals that the healing process has begun – even if it doesn't feel that way yet. It is that moment upon which Haunted Hearts' album, Thank You, Goodnight, teeters precariously and, when one looks at the album that way, it becomes apparent that there isn't a microtone on it that isn't a little wounded but determined to overcome.

The album begins right at that initial endpoint when, at last call in some lonely bar, singer Dennis Ellsworth finally says enough is enough (although still sort of clinging to the perceived need to “spend what [he's] got on her,” even though he knows he can't – not anymore – and this is the last waltz) and walks, maybe misty-eyed, right out the front door.

The eleven songs that follow that title track find the singer pouring himself into everything he can think of and find a way to smile, laugh or otherwise distract him from the heart of the heartache – from jubilant, Louisiana-style rave-ups (“Haunted Hearts”) to Band-ian folk rock (“There Is No Understanding Between Tree And Man”) to stone-broke goofing off (“GST Cheques Are Here!”) to small town country kicks (“Acid”) but, as every turn and seemingly when least expected, that girl and the hurt she created creeps back (as is the case in "I Thought My Name Was Dark Clouds,” “Disappear When You Need To” and “I Only Mean Well”) as a reminder of what the whole point of the exercise was in the first place. As the record progresses, she begins to re-appear with ever-greater regularity too.

Ellsworth comes pretty near to a reconciliation with that love in “Don't Cross Your Heart” as, with all the hope in his heart, he asks her not to make him any promises she can't keep. For a second, it almost seems like the outlook of this narrative is a little brighter for our hero – but it doesn'r last. As early as on the very next track (“Something For You”), the whole thing has collapsed again, but this time the game has changed. Ellsworth doesn't return to the bar this time; once bitten, twice shy, as both the singer and the record bid listeners adieu in “I'll See You,” the lasting impression left is that things will be alright and the singer has resolved to move on. It's not the greatest set of circumstances playing out in those alt-country climes at the end, but it could be worse; the soul-crushing cycle could repeat.

With the psychodrama of Thank You, Goodnight sewn up in the end, listeners are left feeling warm as they would having just walked out of a movie theater after a really good, romantic film. Through the album, memories of the good crashed headlong into terrifying, tragic reality before getting even worse and then starting to maybe – just maybe – look up in the end – it's very reaffirming and leaves listeners hungry for the next great adventure. Whether Thank You, Goodnight was intended to play this way and resemble a concept album or not, that's how it develops and, in addition, like any good serial production, those that come upon it will be hooked for life to see every future twist and turn the ongoing story of Haunted Hearts takes.



Thank You, Goodnight
is out now. To order a copy, email

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