AA Bondy is a songwriter with a worried mind but a full heart. Bondy’s solo debut, American Hearts, covers a lot of ground, from damnation to redemption, war to love, with a great storyteller’s sense for the characters caught in the eternal struggles.
In another incarnation, Bondy is the frontman for Alabama-based rockers Verbena. The crunch of that band is set aside here for a sparer sound of folk and blues, with several tracks featuring a guitar, harmonica and Bondy’s bruised, gentle vocals. The album was recorded in a barn-turned-studio in Palenville, N.Y., and a laid-back rural vibe pervades throughout.
The album opens with “How Will You Meet Your End,” an apocalyptic blues number that finds the singer with six riders on his trail and resigned to his fate. The title track is a Dylanesque anthem-in-waiting for the disaffected. “And if your God makes war, then he’s no God I know, ’cause Christ would not send boys to die,” Bondy sings over acoustic guitar strums.
Fear not — American Hearts ain’t all about heavy topics. Standout tracks also include the country rock of “No Man Shall” and the sweetly romantic “Lover’s Waltz,” on which Bondy gets full band accompaniment.
Bondy has created a cycle of songs that touches all the right cornerstones of American roots music, polishes them up, and makes them shine in all their glory.