Ogden Heart - Ogden Heart

Mother and Child Records


A hallowed heritage can be hard to live up to. Expectation is often intimidating, but when your granddad was someone who happened to be one of the most iconic, inspirational musical persons in your life, the bar is set so high, it’s all but impossible to even think you can come close. This Virginia sibling fronted outfit pay a loving tribute to their late grandfather, Dr. William Singleton Ogden, banjo player, singer and musical hero, on this enticing debut album. Ogden Heart is a family band comprising, mother, Katherine Caine (acoustic guitar, piano), son Evans Humphreys (bass, vocals), daughter Isabel Humphreys (lead vocals) alongside Rusty Speidel (guitar), Andy Thacker (mandolin), Sam Wilson (pedal steel), John Lee (banjo) and James McLaughlin (drums). The perfect mix of skill and energy to keep you hooked from start to finish, this is a collection of deeply intimate songs where a rich folk and country template sees bluegrass and roots flavouring with splendid, calculated precision. Brimming with a down home sensibility and thoughtful, poignant lyrics, it beautifully explores every nook and cranny of Americana, country, gospel and bluegrass. Ogden Heart forge their own path that feels wholly original ... an act and album worth seeking out.

Backwoods Sound, with lyrics by Izzy and music by Katherine, is constructed with a painterly touch, as both lyrically and musically, it captures the pure essence of what makes bluegrass music so special. Thriving on feelings that have manifested from a lifetime of absorbing the music, Izzy comes up with the near-perfect descript of bluegrass with ‘the Mona Lisa on a dirt road.’ Handling most of the lead vocals, her subtlety might perhaps escape some folks, but those who listen closely may hear what I hear, the only person who’s come close to what Alison Krauss does. This comes through even more clearly on Silver Dagger, an old English traditional folk ballad. A pop-styled intro leads into a banjo-mandolin led bluegrass arrangement. While it’s a well-known fact that traditional bluegrass has always had elements in common with folk music of a vintage variety, it takes an outfit like Ogden Heart to make that connection even clearer. Bill Monroe often dug deep into the folk traditions, but for their version of The One I Love Is Gone, they transport his song from Appalachia into deep southern blues, demonstrating Izzy’s vocal versatility.

They travel down a gospel road with a powerful rendition of Roger Miller’s The Crossing. They maintain the gospel vibe with their revival of Elton John’s The Border Song, with Katherine’s piano very much to the fore as the song builds and builds into a stirring anthem with full-on harmonies. Placing their own stamp on well-loved classics is quite an art, but this family-led band succeed time and time again. They take Michael Nesmith’s Nine Times Blue and with weeping pedal steel weaving away behind Izzy’s gorgeously eerie vocal, present a slice of heartbreaking soft rock of the purest kind. John Lee’s banjo is very much to the fore on their bluegrass-flavoured revival of Tom Paxton’s The Last Thing On My Mind. Superb vocals, with wondrous harmonies will bring this 1960s classic to a new, younger audience, whilst also delighting old-timers with its refreshing treatment. They close the album with Katherine’s The Bye And Bye, a sensitive lyrical piece about her late father, Dr. William Singleton Ogden. Just beneath the shadows of death and the ravages of suffering lie glimmers of light that shine sometimes with blinding force and sometimes with flickering uncertainty. We all face moments when we gaze into the darkness, hoping we can see these rays of light, searching for the balance between these forces in our souls and bodies. This song captures those moments perfectly with inspiring positivity.


November 2022