Heartour’s new release R u in is a ten song effort highlighting, among other strengths, songwriter Jason Young’s wont for drawing inspiration from imagery. It is the fifth album for this project and arguably scales to a level of intimacy unmatched by Heartour’s fine earlier releases. The sharp pop sensibilities powering R u in’s are a signature skill in evidence throughout Young’s musical journey, but it reaches new heights with this collection on the backs of shimmering electronic driven arrangements and stylized orchestral minded guitar. It never comes off as a strident heavy-handed, but there’s a palpable attitude radiating from Heartour’s music manifest in its uncompromising sound and the confident finesse Young communicates as a vocalist. The superior production frames their new album in the best possible way.
“Brain “opens R u in in rousing fashion with the track “Brain”. Young scatters a smattering of female backing vocals throughout the track and the battery of synthesizer sounds running though the track provides the cut with a warm musical attack. It begins the release on an exceptional note. Heartour’s propensity for a potent chorus is another highlight of this track. “Refill the Fountain” has a deep funk-infused groove and Young once again impresses with his ability to lock into a song’s groove. The electronic instrumentation has the same vivid aural bite heard with the first song but never overwhelms the listener. It has the dual effect of connecting physically with listeners and provoking the mind as well.
“Dreams to Come”, the album’s fourth track, is another dense electronic-driven piece and Young’s skillful manipulation of musical dynamics makes it one of the best efforts yet. The percussion, despite its pre-programmed origins, possesses plenty of snap and sets a strong rhythmic tone Young shifts yet sustains over the entirety of the track. The spartan opening to “Eye on the Ball” varies a great deal from the previous tracks and maintains that stripped back design throughout. It is a wise move for Young to shake up Heartour’s core sound from time to time but “Eye on the Ball” nevertheless shares the same aural pedigree as the rest of the tunes.
Heartour invokes a slightly ominous mood during the song “The Persuadable One”. It has an artier, less straight-forward arrangement than the earlier tracks and the suggestive yet non-specific lyrical content is among the album’s best. Young’s voice gives those words the needed dramatic interpretation without ever going too far. The finale “Baby Spiders” has lyrics conjuring a vaguely hallucinatory air and another and another bare bones structure that transitions into a rousing close. It is a song that works quite well as a final track as there is a palpable sense of leave-taking with this final performance that many listeners will deem satisfying. Few recordings this year match the musical imagination and inspiration running throughout this recording. Heartour’s R u in is a well-rounded musical work with great coherence that holds up under repeated listens and stands as Jason Young’s best recording yet under this imprimatur.