Layers of percussion, keys, backing and lead vocals produce a genuine three-dimensional sound that gives the ear a choice of elements to focus on - this is the musical equivalent of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. Corrina Repp's vocals catch the attention while remaining unobtrusive enough that the intricate and intriguing musical accompaniment can be enjoyed in its own right, with lengthy instrumental interludes ensuring all areas of the performance receive their moment in the limelight.
Often when I like an album in its entirety, I find it difficult to pick out a particularly good part - that's certainly the case here. Each track complements its neighbours; each instrument sits nicely alongside the rest. The best option I can think of is to let you decide for yourself - if you like one track you'll like them all, although they are by no means identical. There are no real weak links, so the first track I Know You Now is as good as any to help you make up your own mind.
Preview opening track I Know You Now via Vimeo below:
Having said that, Mouths Of Young is a particularly pleasing addition to Hearts On Hold - it's a slightly more lyrical and upbeat effort that shows a playful side to Tu Fawning and reminds the listener that, although there may be downbeat tracks elsewhere on the album, it's not all doom and gloom.
Hearts On Hold continues a recent trend for musical exploration in the vein of Tired Pony and similar collaborations. It's exciting, and it's something that hasn't happened in this way since the 1970s, with the exception of a pocket of positivity around the turn of the Millennium.
On a personal level, I'm delighted to hear music that's about layering and building the track, rather than the very linear verse-chorus-verse approach that seems to be taken by the major labels and studios. A hero's mention, then, for City Slang, the independent record label which made Hearts On Hold possible and which has somehow survived on this basis of innovation and creativity for two decades, celebrating its 20th anniversary in autumn 2010.
Final Score: 91%