Restless Heart Rocks Aug04


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Restless Heart Rocks

When I was a child I talked like a child and thought like a child. My musical palette was pretty much limited to rock ‘n’ roll, and the harder the better. But when I grew to be a man I put away childish things.

helenecronin5Well, not really. I still listen to rock ‘n’ roll. I still laugh at The Three Stooges. I still believe the Cowboys will win the SuperBowl again. But my musical palette has expanded. Today I’m just as likely to listen to Broadway showtunes, Gregorian chants, high lonesome bluegrass, piano bar jazz or classical as rock. But the older I get, the more I find I appreciate the singer/songwriter – that modern day minstrel, that contemporary troubadour who has a finger on the pulse of the populace and somehow manages to mirror your thoughts and emotions in a four minute song.

Maybe that’s why I enjoyed Restless Heart, the six-song EP from singer/songwriter Helene Cronin. A canny combination of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sophie B. Hawkins and Allison Krauss, Cronin’s music is not really straight up country, and it’s definitely not rock ‘n’ roll. Folk comes pretty close, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, no. Helene Cronin’s music is more downhome Americana Mom music. And I say that with a certain amount of awe in my voice. If you have a downhome American mom, like I do, you’ll understand. There is something inexplicably fierce in it, while remaining remarkably tender and accessible.

The project kicks off with classic twangy country guitars and equally melancholy vocals on the title cut. “Restless Heart” sounds like it should have come straight off the soundtrack to “A Prairie Home Companion.” That doesn’t mean this is a mournful downer EP. Cronin immediately cranks up the bouncy factor on the roll-down-the-windows-and-just-drive road tune, “Talk To You.” “Ghost of a Chance” returns to a country vibe, both musically and lyrically, and Cronin’s throaty, Suzy Bogguss-esque vocals perfectly match the mood of the song. “Pink” and “How a Mother Loves” extol the exhileration and challenges of modern-day motherhood. She closes out the project with a bluegrassy Christmas hymn called “Christmas Boy.”

Tomorrow I’ll probably have Pandora on the headphones, shuffling through my showtunes, Gregorian chant, rock ‘n’ roll and ambient instrumentals stations. For today, I’m pretty sure Restless Heart has taken up permanent residence in my CD player.