Boston’s Lonely Heartstring Band have struck me from the start as one of the most unique and significant young groups in bluegrass music. They legitimately go their own way, without leaving behind the traditions and instrumentation that have informed the music since the late ’40s.
Yes, their original songs are distinctively modern, and owe a good deal to pop sensibilities, but they use the ensemble as a rhythm section in the bluegrass way, and mighty effectively to boot.
A first single from their second album is released today, touching on the third rail in bluegrass. Our music has been joyously free of the political rancor that typifies so much popular entertainment, and here the guys follow that middle ground with a song called The Other Side, which laments the needless division which risks breaking our society in two.
Guitarist/vocalist George Clements says they wrote the song to remind listeners that their political opponents are people too, with the same common humanity that should bring us together, not tear us apart.
“We were trying to capture the frustration we felt watching these two sides arguing for power, and how we lose our sense of unity when we polarize into right/left. It’s about how we should try and focus on our common humanity instead of this crazy fight between different sides.
We started performing the song at shows about a year ago and audience reactions have always been very positive. They like the upbeat energy, the catchy riffs, the solos, the harmony singing, and the lyrical ideas seem to translate. Some people have thought it was about accepting the inevitability of death-which is an interesting interpretation as well.”
Courtesy of Rounder Records, here is a listen to the track.
The Lonely Heartstring Band is Clements on guitar, his twin brother Charles on bass, Gabe Hirshfeld on banjo, Patrick M’Gonigle on fiddle, and Matt Witler on mandolin. Their new album was produced by Bridget Kearney, bassist with Lake Street Dive, and is expected as a 2019 release.
The single is available now from the popular download and streaming sites.