Drunken Hearts to release”Reckless Ways of Living” [REVIEW]
Header image photography by Sam Densford/Homefield Productions
“Reckless Ways of Living” by Drunken Hearts will be available everywhere on June 2.
Festy GoNuts first reviewed a Drunken Hearts album back in May of 2018, when Andrew McConathy and his band had just released The Prize.
Of The Prize, the Drunken Hearts’ 3rd studio album, we had noted that it had “grit and rawness, but still a melodic touch and even a little sweetness hiding under there.”
We were then drawn to the energy of Wheels of the City, released the following year, at a time when McConathy and the band had been spending more time on stage delivering powerful performances. A selection of these live tunes can be found on Alive and Free, which captured the essence of their Fall 2019 tour.
Alas, shortly after that tour, Drunken Hearts took an ill-timed hiatus, just before the world decided to take its own hiatus.
Andrew McConathy found himself afloat and lacking direction. “Nothing like taking time off before the time off,” McConathy asserts ironically.
With all 2020 shows and plans put on hold, McConathy was dealt the double blow of seeing the majority of his bandmates leave Colorado. He was left contemplating his career, his life, and his purpose. He took a job as a security guard to make ends meet, wondering if his dream of a musical career had met its end.
Then, as the muse will have it, the songs began to come and demand attention.
McConathy began to look into his past. He faced the hardships he had endured head-on, with a pen and a guitar.
“The odds have always been overwhelming,” he laughs. “I probably should have rolled over a long time ago.” Instead, a renewed sense of faith in his abilities and songs followed.
As the music that would become Reckless Ways of Living began to flow through McConathy, he had a fortuitous connection with producer Dave Pahanish, who has penned No. 1 Billboard country singles for the likes of Toby Keith, Keith Urban, and Jimmy Wayne.
McConathy and Pahanish paired up to write Falling Stars, a moving song about the fallout from “living fast, dying hard.” Phanaish then agreed to produce Reckless Ways of Living.
Along with Pahanish, who shares writing credits on all 10 tracks of Reckless Ways of Living, McConathy called on a few other friends – old and new – to help bring the album to life.
Pahanish had just co-written a few songs on Vince Herman’s solo album, Enjoy the Ride, and Herman was brought in to collaborate on 100 Proof and Popcornin’ Percocets, while his son, Silas Herman contributed mandolin on several tracks.
The list of impressive guests brought in on the project continues with American Aquarium’s Neil Jones, who excels throughout Reckless Ways on pedal steel. International banjo champion Kyle Tuttle lends his 5-string, and Lindsay Lou performs backing vocals on “Forever Highway.” Legendary fiddler Jason Carter (Del McCoury Band) adds his signature touch to “Dark Times.”
James Dumm (electric guitar) and Tyler Adams (keys/organ), who have performed with Drunken Hearts, also appear on the album, as does Drew Packard, who handles most of the bass playing, aside from a few tracks that feature Adrian “Ace” Engfer.
Longtime Drunken Hearts drummer Alex Johnson plays throughout Reckless Ways of Living, and his driving drums pack power into McConathy’s ballads, solidifying the Drunken Hearts’ sound.
The Drunken Hearts’ sound has changed a bit since we first reviewed The Prize in 2018.
We have seen the growth in McConathy as a songwriter and performer. Reckless Ways finds him digging deeper, but embracing the comforts of the music, and bringing the songs to life in a way that feels natural, like the songs were always there, waiting for McConathy to introduce them to the world.
Reckless Ways of Living is an introspective look at life. McConathy, like all of us, has dealt with loss. He has suffered lows and reveled in highs. His life is a journey, like all. Reckless Ways is a piece of that journey.
Musically, McConathy’s latest effort is clean and clear. While The Prize and Wheels of the City saw the emergence of a rock band, bringing high-energy tunes that danced on the fringes of Americana, Reckless Ways of Living gets to the core of McConathy, who says, “The songs are reasonably more of an honest representation of me as a songwriter.”
It is truly amazing that Reckless Ways of Living is the 3rd studio album from Drunken Hearts that we have reviewed in just 5 years. That type of musical proliferation is rare in an artist.
Andrew McConathy admits he has struggled to find his clear path at times, even considering giving up on his dreams. With Reckless Ways of Living, it is clear that his ship is sailing in the right direction. As long as McConathy and Drunken Hearts continue to deliver albums like Reckless Ways, we will follow them on that path wherever it leads!
Reckless Ways of Living is available on all platforms on June 2, 2023.
Drunken Hearts are hosting an album release show for Reckless Ways of Living at Meow Wolf in Denver, CO on June 10. More info
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