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Russell Howard’s Heart in City Heart

I grew up listening to musical theatre, country… and I dare not say what else. Knowing more Sondheim in high school versus, I don’t know, Dave Mathews, has left me with an (very slowly receding) aversion to songs in which “I have no idea what they are saying.”

So, when I heard Russell Howard‘s voice ring out on his album City Heart like Nate Ruess and melted butter, I thought “niiiiice.” His songs are straightforward with clear vocals, messages, and production. It’s silky smooth transparency. Formally speaking, Howard’s work in City Heart is pretty, well, formulaic. However, I still find the whole album warm and genuine. And as they say, you have to know the rules before you can break them — but no one says you have to break the rules to be good.

I don’t think it would be anyone’s first guess, but Howard grew up with symphony concerts and spending summers at the Aspen Music Festival (this festival is a really, REALLY big deal). He played violin for over a decade and studied composition in college. Knowing this, I realized that the clarity of his music has nothing to do with studio magic and his passion for music has everything to do with sharing and communicating with with a large community.

City Heart and other works by Howard are available for purchase here.

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