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Jimmy Gnecco - The Heart Album Cover

Jimmy Gnecco - The Heart

Reviewed by
8.5
Jimmy Gnecco - The Heart
Record Label: Bright Antenna
Release Date: July 20, 2010
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
After more than 10 years in the criminally underrated rock outfit Ours, New York City singer-songwriter Jimmy Gnecco has resurfaced with his debut record The Heart, a melancholic and mostly maudlin expose on love, loss and how to cope.

Gnecco has always possessed one of contemporary music's most compelling voices, but on The Heart he takes it to places he never has before. This spartan collection of bare-bones ballads is stockpiled with leave-it-all-on-the-table breakup fodder that are as tender, compassionate and exquisitely performed as anything released this year. To call it breathtaking would be a giant disservice.

But before this editorial veers towards the hyperbolic, it's worth noting that, for reasons unknown, Gnecco decides to overstuff The Heart, throwing in a handful of superfluous filler. In the end, its 15 tracks and more than 70 minutes worth of material. About heartbreak? Really? You have got to be joking.

But so it is, that The Heart opens with the gentle acoustics of "Rest Your Soul," an elegant and timeless ballad in which his falsetto dances and swirls, showcasing his upper register and proving that his timbre is truly that rarest of things and indubitably something worth cherishing. "Light On The Grave," offers more of the same but features more ornate edges and a forlorn sentiment that feels like an extension of "Rest Your Soul." While he's certainly made an impression, he hasn't given enough to turn some heads. That all ends though on the album's next cut.

"Mystery," is placid and hushed, allowing for a more inviting experience. Veering away from the falsetto, "Mystery," marks the album's first real triumph. His vocal command stays on course, there's fewer nuances and every fleeting second feels more perfect and more comfortable. Layered by lightly rattling drums and a wall of celestial guitars, it is as potent and pristine as any song released this year. In three words: Download this now.

The six-minute title track begins with handclaps, bleating vocals and an urgent, drug-induced chaos that's off-kilter and intriguing. To put it succinctly, the phrase "sing your heart out," has never been more true than on this one. At points it's blood curling, unsettling and downright frustrating. And yet, somehow, perhaps almost miraculously, a veil lifts and the song ends with a stirring finish.

"Bring You Home," is another offering that should flood Mp3 players. Anchored by strings, the mid-tempo exercise draws heavily from the well of Ours' discography and moves along symphonically. That the song is also the album's first three-minute offering cannot be overlooked. While The Heart has indeed started out strong, the album's first three songs ran almost 20 minutes in length. Regardless of this, "Bring You Home," is a true gem and should most definitely be passed along to friends and enemies alike. Of the album's next three, the most striking is "Days," which presents what is arguably Gnecco's best vocal work to date. Impassioned, intoxicating and downright inimitable, "Days," finds The Heart at its apex.

But whereas most albums immediately come back down, Gnecco stays at the top with the urgent "Gravity," a playful summer song that's as surprising as it is superlative. But a summer song for Jimmy Gnecco, really? Sure enough, "Gravity," is indeed just that. Ninth song "I Heard You Singing," is the albums penultimate show-stopper as a swelling string section pushes along besides a cinematic sweep of guitars and lilting drums. Though it indeed has stiff competition, "I Heard You Singing," may very well be the best song Jimmy Gnecco has ever written.

After a disappointing start, "Take a Chance," rises with the help of an organ and cello to finish with a flourish, while the stark piano ballad "Darling" possesses an intimacy and timelessness that is unlike few songs Gnecco has released to date. In the wake of "Darling," comes the throwaway "Light on the Grave (reprise)," the plodding piano number "Patiently Waiting" which features Gnecco's guttural screams and a sense of angst not felt since the Ours days; and the haunting and elegaic "It's Ony Love." Of all the songs on The Heart, none sound more like Ours than this one. Fittingly, the disc ends with the mysterious "Talk To Me," a fragile and emotion-laden affair that' makes a case for being one of 2010's best concluding songs.

So while it may take some effort ––– only four of the album's 15 songs veer away from mid-tempo or ballad territory –––– and while it may not be the most concise release this year –––– The Heart is a triumphant and masterful work and finds Gnecco at the top of his game. Are there still moments spent pining for the windswept choruses from Precious and Distorted Lullabies? Absolutely. But in the end, this is where Gnecco is most comfortable and this is where his career lies. Come to think of it, perhaps this is where he always should have been. For without Ours, there would be no need for comparison, no need for wanting more. And in the end, armed with a disc this strong, there should never be a need for anything more than utter satisfaction.

Track Listing 1. Rest Your Soul (4:49)
2. Light On Your Grave (4:02)
3. Mystery (4:40)
4. The Heart (6:13)
5. Bring You Home (3:01)
6. These Are My Hands (3:21)
7. Days (3:39)
8. Gravity (3:50)
9. I Heard You Singing (4:34)
10. Take a Chance (3:39)
11. Darling (5:03)
12. Light on the Grave (reprise) (0:51)
13. Patiently Waiting (3:04)
14. It's Only Love (3:24)
15. Talk To Me (5:43)


Recommended If You Like Ours, Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, Randy Coleman


Find Him Here Website
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 23
11:05 AM on 07/23/10
#2
Keagan Ilvonen
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Awesome review for an awesome album. Gnecco is the man.
12:14 PM on 07/23/10
#3
reid
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this album is in contention for my favorite record of 2010.
12:21 PM on 07/23/10
#4
Litost
never be lost
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great to finally have these songs after seeing his acoustic set at SXSW
12:48 PM on 07/23/10
#5
Gregory Robson
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this album is in contention for my favorite record of 2010.
If it wasn't so placid and docile, I might agree with you. It's going to at least make my Top 50 for sure.
12:52 PM on 07/23/10
#6
reid
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If it wasn't so placid and docile, I might agree with you. It's going to at least make my Top 50 for sure.
i don't actually mind that it's all slow and "docile". it's just such a beautiful record. the songs about his mom's battle and death from cancer are heartbreaking.
12:59 PM on 07/23/10
#7
Gregory Robson
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i don't actually mind that it's all slow and "docile". it's just such a beautiful record. the songs about his mom's battle and death from cancer are heartbreaking.
Yeah, I like that he goes after the personal material. I'd take more funereal songs than breakup songs, but it is what it is.
02:33 PM on 07/23/10
#8
abusedcat
Long Gone Before Daylight
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need to get this. the first two ours records are some of my favorite albums.
02:57 PM on 07/23/10
#9
ChristynNicole
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For someone who can belt it, just as good if not better live, he deserves so much credit for this album. The strength of his voice and realism of his lyrics are chilling. He's absolutely fantastic.
08:13 PM on 07/23/10
PaperRival-Jake
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I like OURS. This record came off as overly self-indulgent... Do you think another listen would yield a different opinion?
09:27 PM on 07/23/10
eatbabiesyum
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i'll check this out
10:00 PM on 07/23/10
reid
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I like OURS. This record came off as overly self-indulgent... Do you think another listen would yield a different opinion?
yes. he was with the mgmt company i work for until just recently. i've had the record for a few months, and it just gets better the more i listen to it. listen to it one night with a good pair of headphones. not just as background noise, but a real listen. that's how i 'got' it. i actually didn't care for a lot of it the first time, but as an Ours fan, i knew it would be a good record. and i was right.
06:40 AM on 07/24/10
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yes. he was with the mgmt company i work for until just recently. i've had the record for a few months, and it just gets better the more i listen to it. listen to it one night with a good pair of headphones. not just as background noise, but a real listen. that's how i 'got' it. i actually didn't care for a lot of it the first time, but as an Ours fan, i knew it would be a good record. and i was right.
Thanks. I'll give that a shot.
07:00 AM on 07/24/10
Gregory Robson
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I like OURS. This record came off as overly self-indulgent... Do you think another listen would yield a different opinion?
No. I think your point is dead-on. It is a bit self-indulgent. But then again what music isn't? I'm going to differ from Reid. I've been spinning it pretty frequently for the past few months, and while certain songs continue to make an impression, this still feels way too disappointing in places.
09:34 AM on 07/24/10
PaperRival-Jake
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No. I think your point is dead-on. It is a bit self-indulgent. But then again what music isn't? I'm going to differ from Reid. I've been spinning it pretty frequently for the past few months, and while certain songs continue to make an impression, this still feels way too disappointing in places.
Ok, Well, my roommate has the record. I'll give it another listen... I'm pretty sure you might be right though.

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