Like Tony Rook’s other recordings, Matters Of The Heart is chock full of contemporary original material. The Minnesota based singer/songwriter has once again put out a collection of material that a listener can engage with and connect to. On top of that, Rook has surrounded himself with great musicians and vocalists that not only enhance these compositions, but get the message across effectively.
You Never Said Goodbye really sets the tone for this project. This song tackles the reality of not only ending a romantic relationship, but never fully getting closure in the process. Lord I’m Blue, written by Louisa Branscomb, has a slightly traditional bent in terms of its subject matter and themes, but The Tony Rook Band delivers it with a clear modern edge. Of particular note on this track are the vocal harmonies with Rook on lead vocals, bassist Terry Johnson on tenor, and banjoist Graham Sones on baritone. The blend between these three men is perfect.
Two of the tracks are instrumentals written within the band. Shot In The Dark was written by Tony while Mud Fence Mending was contributed by Sones. Both of these tunes spotlight the group’s instrumental abilities. Rook, Sones, and Johnson, as well as fiddler Tom Schaefer and mandolinist Derek Birkeland, all bring their A game here.
Last Night I Fell for You (All Over Again) is another Louisa Branscomb piece that tells a regretful story about the desire of reconnecting with a former lover. This song is especially complemented by the fiddling of Tom Schaefer.
Other songs on Matters Of The Heart, such as Following This Road and In A Room Full of Strangers, deal with the end of a life journey. The former by Mike Birkeland addresses how to navigate life after the death of a loved one. The latter by Rook comes from the perspective of someone who is slowly losing their memory. It’s a poignant yet brilliant piece detailing one of the cruel realities about reaching advanced age.
Matters of the Heart is a recording that checks all the boxes. The singing is great, the musicianship is top notch, and there is complete originality in terms of the material. What more could you ask?