Vinyl Vlog 465

Vinyl Vlog 465

Thursday, 26 November 2020
”Who Knows Your Heart” from the Back of Our Heads LP by Kalen & Aslyn.

A deeper look at the grooves pressed into the Back of Our Heads LP by Kalen & Aslyn. I confess that Country balladry is not my favorite type of music. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a slow song; I am absolutely capable of appreciating a love song or a slow song – but those moments when a singer just lilts his or her way along through a melody and does so through puddles of caramelized saccharine compel me to check my watch. In the case of Back of Our Heads – Kalen & Aslyn’s first album for New West Records – I was checking my watch before “Heather” (the first song on the A-side) had finished its run.

The problem with Back of Our Heads isn’t a lack of talent – I need to make that clear. In fact, the vocal interplay between Kalen and Aslyn Nash is very beautiful and very easy to sink into as the record plays – or it would be, if the damned thing ever began to move faster than a crawl. But it never does; “Heather” sets the standard for Back of Our Heads as it walks lackadaisically along, and that tempo endures through “Loving You Still,” “Girlfriend” (which covers all the ground it needs to with the opening lyric, “I wish I was your girlfriend”) and the ironically entitled “Calm Down” (I had to fight the urge to reply, “Don’t worry – much calmer and I’d be in a coma” as I listened), only picking up its movement for “Don’t Take It Out On Me” (which is still pretty damned slow), before the side peters out.

Rather than contrasting the glacial pace set by the A-side with something a little more energetic on the B-, “Fate” actually funereal as it opens. Now, I can say that there is no debating the beauty of Aslyn Nash’s voice; likes like “You said I look beautiful in the morning/ I haven’t done anything with myself” slide easily along on the sheen of the piano which supports them – but the song’s pace is so moribund that listeners find themselves losing interest because it’s just so damned easy to get away from the song. The same is true of “Killing Time” (which sounds a little like The Beatles’ “Blackbird” – on downers) and “California” (which captures precisely none of the excitement that state normally holds) and the title track, which closes the album – in each of those cases the duo indulgently examines nothing of interest, at length. The only exception to the slow, grey decent through the B-side of Back of Our Heads is “Who Knows Your Heart”where, without warning, the song’s piano doesn’t exactly speed up so much as just trade the minor chords employed elsewhere for major ones while also aping an approach similar to the scale David Grey used on “The One I Love.” That spark of life is enough to widen listeners’ eyes and get them to accept the possibility of more from Kalen & Aslyn, but then the album’s title track backslides into the self-indulgent mire which colored the rest of the album, and it ends with a whimper instead of a bang.

The dialogue above might not sound positive at all, but I promise it is, reader. The warmth and feeling about every song on Back of Our Heads is undeniable – all that’s really missing from the album is a bit of fire and energy which can get things moving. It’s too late for Back of Our Heads, but maybe on their next album Kalen & Aslyn will show more signs of life. [Bill Adams]


Back of Our Heads is out now. Buy it here on Amazon.

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