Steve McWilliams and Debra Buonaccorsi are the TrueHearts. And they are. They’re an item. They hit East Nashville from the DC/Baltimore area a few years back as the Hummingbyrds and released a terrific album called “Purgatory Emporium” that fell into the melodic side of Americana sound. It was a solid collection of songs that they sold at gigs as they worked up a reputation in the crowded East Nashville music scene. All very nice. Lovely people too. Salt of the earth and reasonably normal.
And now comes THIS… “Songs for Spike” is their new album, their first under the TrueHearts moniker, and it takes their whole career up to this point – such as it has been - and stands it on its cotton pickin’ head. Under the aegis of the increasingly popular producer/guitarist Dave Coleman (with Pete Pulkrabek on drums and Brian Hinchliffe on bass and cameos from Richard Bailey of the Steeldrivers and Paul Niehaus of Calexico) they have put together the best new record I’ve heard since Nick Piunti’s “Temporary High” a year ago. This is not just more agreeable pleasant Americana songs and sounds (though there are elements of that), this is a quantum leap. This is a rocking damn gorgeous eclectic but unified set of songs, about the never-ending fight to come out on top in life. A guitar group with terrific vocals, songs that are about things with profoundly well-constructed arrangements on a comfy bed of Dave Coleman’s construction of wonderful electric guitars with subtle twists and turns like Tom Petty – rest his soul – and damn near XTC territory to my ears. There is a song (“Hey Hey”) that embraces a reggae vibe in the verses and then steps up and punches you in the face with a fifth gear rocking chorus. They thought out all this stuff really well. No song is less than inspired and they never repeat themselves – they embrace rock, they go to the country and get pensive, they shift the focus to a piano ballad or a close-up of an acoustic guitar, but they make joyous loud noises too, a lovely and appropriate amount of it. It’s bearing up to repeated listening as a gift that keeps on giving.
Enough of my yacking. Let’s go through some of the record. Things kick off with a “Wont it be Something”, a swinging guitar descending chord progression reminiscent of “16 Tons” or a trashier version of the Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon.” Complete with horns, it soars into an exuberant chorus: “Won’t it be something, to make gold out of nothing. I still believe in nursery rhymes.” --- “Sunshine & Violets” has traces of Aimee Mann with another chorus that lifts everything higher --- “PFC Frankie Walker” is a return to more rural territory, a banjo-driven up-tempo minor-key folk tale and probably the album’s centerpiece. During World War II, Steve’s mother was 15 and PFC Frankie “Spike” Walker was 18, and they had to be known to court and spark. He shipped out, went ashore D-Day +1 and was killed 2 months later. It highlights some of the struggle with the cards you’re dealt that permeate the record, making ALL the record songs for Spike, hence the title. “Mamzelle Marie” is a chugging bo diddley verse that roars into a chorus that grabs you like all the ones have so far. --- “Late July” features a gorgeous guitar figure --- “32nd Street” is a free-swing rocker with shades of McMurtry --- There’s much more. It’s all good too. Everything hits you musically, genuinely musically. In our world of everyone having a record out and anyone over 21 need not apply, “Songs for Spike” deserves to be heard, and considered one of the best albums to come out in 2019. I’m serious.
Scheduled for release on June 21, 2019, the Truehearts will be true to their hearts and continue to play both in Nashville and out in the real world. I don’t lend my name to just anything, so I close off this missive with what I truly know: they’ve made a solid damn record, and if you care at all about East Nashville music, or the whole Americana scene in general where they’re suddenly pushing the envelope, you must hear this album.
"With a knack for melody and sharp storytelling, The Truehearts have made a terrific album of modern Americana. Steve and Debra blend everything from '30s string bands, '50s rock'n'roll, '70s Petty, '80s Ramones, and 21st century folk into a warm-yet-sharp blend of well-observed tunes, full of layered harmonies and apt arrangements. Keep your ears open for The Truehearts."
- Eric Brace (Red Beet Records / Last Train Home / Brace-Cooper-Jutz)
"The TrueHearts’ new album, Songs for Spike, is all heart—the kind of album that tells honest tales of love and life with poetic clarity, heighted by the harmonies of co-leaders Debra Buonaccorsi and Steve McWilliams and their mesh of electric and acoustic guitars. The expertly played arrangements are a perfect fit for their lyrics, both settling into and slightly pushing the envelope of Americana and roots rock with flourishes of banjo of odd turns of six-string like the bubbling intro to “Milky Way” and the chiming expressionist colors that heighten the drama of the telling “Late July.” Songs for Spike is packed with simple truths—which are the best kind—and immensely easy to fall in love with."
- Ted Drozdowski, senior editor Premier Guitar
"The TrueHearts are aptly named. These are good people, making good music for right and good reasons."
- Peter Cooper, Grammy award nominated singer-songwriter and author
New Album, "Songs for Spike" now available. Just click on the album cover below.
"This is as eclectic as any album can get but somehow it all hangs together because it’s so well thought out, arranged, and brilliantly executed. It’s not just a harmonious blending of voices; it’s that and the blending of so many styles that hit on a wide range of emotions too. Other bigger name duos will undoubtedly earn coveted awards, but the Truehearts are likely more deserving. This album is several cuts above the rest. " Glide Magazine