It’s time for a little ride down the back roads of America by way of CommonUnion59. The duo’s latest record Heartbeat Serenade is a fresh alt country breeze from the minds of Steve McKenzie and Laura Malasig.
These two San Franciscans bring that special Bay twist to a folksy, down home sound you’d expect to find in Nashville. Heartbeat Serenade is definitely a journey record, filled with sentiment but not sentimental. Malasig’s vocals stir up Maria McKee, Emmylou Harris or the Civil Wars. A good example of this is “American Dream.” While McKenzie will remind you Arlo Guthrie or Glenn Campbell.
“It’s Alright” is a lovely lilting track that demonstrates how Heartbeat Serenade is simple, beautiful and choked full of heartland soul, the signature of these artists. Sincere and unafraid to be so, they have written an unjaded record. And I like that.
“The River Song” is a gorgeous song, evoking a little Natalie Merchant with just a touch of Reba McEntire. That’s also true of “From Where We Are.”
A surprising track is the lead single “Heartbeat Serenade,” where Malasig and McKenzie sound a little like a folk version of a 70s rock opera. It’s very ballady in that semi-psychedelic way. Excellent.
And I swear that “Today” sounds like a song from Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s episode “Once More, With Feeling.” It sounds very much like a song Joss Whedon would use in a hilarious musical about teenage vampire slayers. Lovely and heartbreaking.
The heaviest track on the album is “Not Dead Inside” and it’s a doozie. Mesmerizing and repeat worthy, the song sums of the philosophy of these two.
One of my favorite tracks musically is “This Universe.” Gentle and comforting like a vintage Cat Stevens song. We’ve been playing it around the house at nightfall and it’s a perfect way to shutter the day and slide into the evening.
The overall takeaway with Heartbeat Serenade is that it’s an easy, restful listen, perfect for a sunny day when things are going well or a dark day when you need to shift the mood.
Production: Recorded at 25th Street Recording, Oakland, CA., Produced by CommonUnion59/Scott Bergstrom, Engineered by Scott Bergstrom
Heartbeat Serenade tracklisting:
1. It’s Alright
2. American Dream
3. The River Song
4. From Where We Are
5. Little White House
6. Heartbeat Serenade
8. Catch The Wind
9. Not Dead Inside
10. This Universe