Depending on if you count the EP with under different a name (Br’er Rabbit) and lacking cellist extraordinaire Jillian Walker, The Heartland is the fourth or fifth release from Rabbit Wilde. In many ways it meets the sweet spot, branching out from their folk-stomp origins – there is a blues song and a few honest to goodness ballads – without losing the energy that made them a fan favorite throughout Washington state.
Upcoming bands spend a lot of time on the road; that influence, especially viewed through the sacrifices made, is seen throughout the album. “Daughter of the Sun” interrupts a love song to have the protagonist suddenly have to travel with his band. In what might be the perfect metaphor for 21st century Seattle, their love is compared with cities destroying the sketchy but interesting parts of their town in order to rebuild something new. “Brick by brick, we can build it again,” sounds so optimistic, but there’s the underlying fear that the “old rock club” might just get replaced by condos – more a stable environment but sterile. “Porcelain Frame,” “Just the Same,” and “Easy Dear (The Light)” explore similar themes of loss. “I can’t live without you,” could be a statement of love, but when it morphs into a repetition of, “You can’t live without me,” it sounds like a desperate plead, a prayer that you can make it be so just by wanting it to be true.
This isn’t to make it sound like this is a depressing album. The harmonies of brothers Zach and Nathan Hamer mixed with Miranda Zickler are transcendent, especially in “Porcelain Frame.” “Codeine No 7” has a euphoric outro jam that could go on for hours and never get old. Maybe your family farm has been lost and it’s chilly and you’re starting to confront your mortality, but listening to “Howl” or “Gold” on a sunny day makes the daily struggle quickly recede in rear view mirror.