Hearts of Palm

CD Review

Hearts of Palm transmits an alluringly melancholic emotion upon the listener. At first listen you may easily turn your ear away, not getting as much stimulus as we have all been raised to expect. However, the subtlety of each vocal expression and each detuned guitar strum works into your consciousness. As each song passes by, the subtleness and sadness emitted bring forth peace through solitude. Jeff Martin masters the art of subtlety; never bearing noises down upon the listeners. Idaho always creates an atmosphere of lullaby quality.

Hearts of Palm begins with an intentionally struggling voice backed by guitar. Jeff’s soft voice denotes the struggles from within. From one quiet, withdrawn moment Idaho dynamically increases the passion into a controlled exclamation of feelings, then quiet once again.

Then they roll you up and through the rollercoaster of live with a frenzy of psychedelic blending of guitars and drums. So simple yet so genius, Idaho again lets it go, quiet almost to stillness. Realization alas. The trademark vocals (half spoken, half sung) of Jeff Martin float in and out of space throughout the eleven tracks. The excellence of songwriting and composition are what keep you playing this over and over, finding something new within each song.

Happy Times is an acoustic ode. The beat of the song seems almost too slow to play, yet the timing of each dynamic and verse culminate perfectly together. Easily dragging each note, never hurrying, this is the ultimate in slow-core. “Candles & groceries & wine...”  Happy times moves into a piano solo with drums. Jeff holds every note like it may be the last; never wanting to let it go.

“It’s time to remember a scuff on our soul creates nothing”.

“Sure. I love this time of the year” slowly explodes into one again, nothingness. A depressed sounding Jeff speaks of Happy, happy, happy, happy times. And then it is over.

Evolution is cold speaks for itself, “lets go for a walk, I can’t really talk., anymore no one’s to blame, yea, evolution is cold”.

Sung with effects creating an icy. underground feeling that makes you feel cold and alone, lonely. Maracas quietly keep the beat, letting the echoplex of beautifully detuned guitars stay in the forefront.

“I just want to be attractive to you, give me the sign when it’s the right time...”

The tape loops, pedal effects and Prophet 5 sounds augment the pure guitar and vocal sounds, giving a mysterious, sublime feature to each and every song, making it Idaho’s own.

Under, the last song on this CD starts with noisy city street sounds. Into a slow progression of the Prophet 5, strings and lonely sounds sift through the imagination as the song builds. A portrait of a perfect song writer, Jeff and Dan prove that timing is truly the key to success. The tinkling of the piano keys remind you of a ballerina’s dance: simple and pure. As the volume increases with the guitar and keys, you again lose almost all volume, another soft break in the song. Distorted guitars bring up the next step, leading to strings and a dreamlike piano sequence. And then, the quiet country night sounds of the crickets invade the song ever so cautiously.

Idaho has been around for many years, but due to a lack of word of mouth promotion, I had never heard of them. No hired producers, just a studio in the house, Idaho is proof that if you have the right vision, you don’t need anyone else to help you record your album. PRB in New York is supporting this band. I believe that though not much for a live audience, (unless presented through a multimedia performance), Idaho and their Hearts of Palm are a must for those, “I need to relax” or “I need to really think about it” moods that we all discover within our souls.

Hearts of Palm is to be released October 2000.