I said it before and I’ll say it again. The real charm of Patrick Noel Russ, well, the most important of many at least, is his ability to write good songs. Make that great songs. And if you are going to plough the singer-songwriter furrow, which he certainly does, then that is what really matters. The name, after all, is in the job title. If Rise Up was an EP that neatly showcased not only his talent for this but did so overall manner of gentle genre-hopping and stylistic shimmying around, then True Heart takes those attributes and really nails them to the musical post.
If the sassy acoustic pop-rock of Close To Me is the perfect way to make the right impression as we kick things off, it is The Loneliest Place which is a stroke of genius. A simple song indeed, but the best ideas are always thus, music even more so, and this lilting Dylan-esque slice of deftness is dressed up with shimmering folk delicacy and swooning strings to fantastic effect.
There is more pushy country-pop in the form of Already Won, spiralling yet understated rock ballads with Sad Goodbye, When I Close My Eyes is heartfelt and emotive and Dance In The Hall, which rounds thinks off, is a delicious piece of indie-pop poise.
There is very little I can say about this album that I didn’t heap praise on last time around. Not that this is a “more-of-the-same album, it’s sounds are reminiscent sure, but Russ’s talents lay in being able to be both fresh and familiar. It’s as if the more he writes the further he pushes the boundaries, but does so whilst still delivering a signature sound. How does he do that?
This is the sort of music that quickly becomes regarded as “classic.” That merging of sounds – pop, rock, blues, folk – into something that is both not of any particular genre yet forged out of the best bits of all of them. Folkies will love the openness and authenticity, rockers will appreciate the electric drives that are entwined around its acoustic heart, country fans will love the narratives and storytelling and pop pickers will just want to throw some shapes and revel in the album’s accessibility. Something for everyone really.
It’s a cool album, one that combines depth with openness, pop with purpose, integrity with excitement, folk charm with mainstream accessibility. It’s difficult to see if there is anything that he has missed. (Thinks.) Nope, can’t think of a single thing.