An acclaimed indie folk band whose influences include Americana, country-rock, and classic Beatlesque pop, the Head and the Heart was formed in Seattle by a group of Northwestern transplants. They broke into the mainstream in 2013 with the release of their sophomore outing, Let’s Be Still, which peaked at the number ten slot on the Billboard 200 and shot straight to the top of the U.S. Folk and Independent Albums charts. Subsequent efforts Signs of Light and Living Mirage reached the upper echelons of the U.S. and Canadian charts. In 2022, the band issued their fifth LP, Every Shade of Blue, which included the hit single of the same name.
The lineup formed in 2009, when songwriters Jonathan Russell and Josiah Johnson met at an open-mike event at Seattle’s Conor Byrne Pub. Pianist Kenny Hensley, bassist Chris Zasche, violinist Charity Rose Thielen, and former Prabir & the Substitutes drummer Tyler Williams rounded out the roster, and the Head and the Heart spent the first half of 2010 touring the Pacific Northwest before self-releasing their eponymous debut in June. By the end of the summer, they’d created enough buzz to entertain offers from several record labels, eventually signing with Sub Pop that fall and reissuing their album — this time with remastered tracks and one new song — in early 2011.
The Head and the Heart spent much of their time on tour in 2012 and subsequently began the writing process for their second album while they were on the road. The bandmembers eventually returned to Seattle to record their sophomore release, 2013’s Let’s Be Still. Enjoying continued success, they moved from Sub Pop to Warner Bros. and, after taking a break to recharge their creative batteries, returned to the studio and recorded their third full-length album (and first major-label release), Signs of Light. Featuring their second U.S. Adult Alternative chart-topper, “All We Ever Knew,” the record was released in September 2016 and soared to number five on the Billboard 200, their highest showing to date. Co-founder Josiah Johnson left the group amicably shortly after the album’s release and was replaced by Matt Gervais, the husband of Charity Rose Thielen. The companion Stinson Beach Sessions, a collection of unreleased demos from the making of Signs of Light, arrived the following year.
Steady touring followed until the Head and the Heart returned to the studio to record a follow-up. Their fourth effort, Living Mirage (Warner Bros./Reprise), was issued in 2019 and peaked at number 16 on the U.S. Billboard 200. Early 2022 saw the release of the stirring single “Every Shade of Blue,” which appeared on the album of the same name later that April. ~ Andrew Leahey, Rovi