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10 March 2011 @ 06:28 am
Bp's Song of the Week #108: The Heartbroken "Save Yourself/Couldn't Help Myself" (live)  
Well, in the past couple weeks I’ve found the front runner for my favorite album of the year. Granted, new releases from Within Temptation, Matt Nathanson, Joe Bonamassa, and others are coming and the year is young, but the debut album from The Heartbroken is at the top of my list right now and it’s only growing on me with each listen.

I had picked out the song that really broke The Heartbroken for me, the one that grabbed me, shook me and said “you’ve got to listen to us” – that was “Save Yourself.” But then today, “Couldn’t Help Myself” really grabbed me and told “Save Yourself” to put up its dukes. So I decided to split it this week rather than making them fight. They’re very different songs so I’ll give you the choice which to listen to first. That’s right, first. Because after you hear one you’re going to want to hear more and so you’ll check out the other one.

A quick bit of history, when I was in Toronto in Oct of 2009 for Tara MacLean’s CD Release Show, my friend Greg and I chatted with Damhnait Doyle after the show for a couple of minutes and she mentioned working with her new band, The Heartbroken. Damhnait (pronounced Dav-net) was with Tara and Kim Stockwood in the group Shaye for a few years. So as I was checking The Heartbroken out on You Tube I ran across a very raw, intimate session they did for CMT Canada in which they showcased four songs from their album and “Save Yourself” made me stop in my tracks. I checked out their site, streamed the album in full a few times and then clicked the PayPal button.

Save Yourself (live)

If you’re looking for a party you’re probably not going to be into this one, BUT if you want your cage rattled you’re in luck. Damhnait’s evocative and pain-soaked vocal shines as she delivers such emotion and texture. The starkness of her piano and vocal at the beginning is haunting and tender. By the time she reaches the chorus as she slides between the peaks and valleys, you’ll be hooked. What a great transition to the lower, “bad.” The song turns brutal in the next verse and as Dav hits the next chorus – where even the boy’s mother admits that her son isn’t well - she takes the “bad’ into the stratosphere starting around the 3:30 mark and the intensity rises until the final “bad” where she almost whispers it, breathless. Absolutely stunning.

That song is really a showcase for Damhnait – so the next song is much more upbeat and features some brilliant work by the rest of the band: Blake Manning on drums and vocals (he’s worked with so many great Canadians, Tom Cochrane, Matthew Good, Melanie Doane, Alex Lifeson, etc.); Stuart Cameron (son of the Godfather of Celtic Music, John Allan Cameron) on guitar and vocals; and bassist Peter Fusco.

Couldn’t Help Myself (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdAZQKfyF74
Blake and Dav harmonize so well together throughout this one, but especially at the beginning and Stuart’s slide guitar provides such a wonderful texture. The chorus is so universal, the fumbling of relationships, it should be so easy, but it’s not. It’s not a happy go lucky track, but the chorus is infectious and so sing-able – you’re standing together with them as if united in confusion.
“you’re so perfect in so many ways, I couldn’t help myself, if you were standing in front of me, you’d have to stitch my heart so it wouldn’t bleed, I couldn’t trust myself if you were laying in my arms, I’d just screw it up like I did before…”
When the Fender Telecaster comes out at 3:20 the song is propelled into another level, Dav’s vocal becomes more desperate and the outro that follows is brimming with intensity – and they are having a blast! What a gem!

I hope you enjoy this band as much as I am right now!

More The Heartbroken:
The Truth (Dakota session)
Laid to Waste (live)
Same Mood Today (Dakota session) – the 2nd part of this is just great
Good for Thorns (Dakota session)