In honor of Verskotzi’s upcoming album, Waving – set to be released December 18th – reminiscing on the band’s debut full length album Lemon Heart, released a year ago this month (November) by Princess Records, is an excellent idea.
These Minneapolis natives have received many a rave review regarding their music and there’s no doubt that it’s for great reason. This mix of rock, indie, and alternative music, influenced a great deal by frontman/songwriter Joey Verskotzi’s fondness for 60s and 70s tonality, is a marvelous 10-track trip entirely worth the ride. From the beginning of “Luck” to the last note of “Diamond Ring,” no song on Lemon Heart will disappoint you. While choosing a favorite is the hardest of tasks, there are definitely a handful that are worth listening to on a regular basis, if not the entire album itself.
It may be that I have a thing for the first songs on albums, but “Luck” was simply too perfect. It’s catchy and it’s a marvelous introduction to the rest of Lemon Heart. “Luck” provides that glimpse into the artistic qualities behind the album, while maintaining the fun and entertaining attributes we all know music can have.
“Heartless Songs” plays a little heavier on the electric guitar (that is surprisingly nostalgic for me because it reminds me of a game I used to play on my Game Boy Color… I mean that in the best way possible!) and it is equally as heavy when you really pay attention to the lyrics. Anyone who has ever gone through a breakup and then tries to get over the situation will be able to relate to this one.
The shortest of Lemon Heart, coming in at almost a minute and a half, “Burnt Yuppies” is on my list of notable tracks for a few reasons. For starters, the acoustics of this track are fantastic. The sort of homemade qualities that it possesses sound-wise give it a standout quality. More so, in a conversation with Joey Verskotzi, he revealed the meaning behind the song and it makes this brief melody so much better. He began by saying that “Burnt Yuppies” is about his frustrations with norms within society, as well as his thoughts about unquestioned authority (“Why the hell do I have to do that?” is what he says). Through the “house on fire” tale – starting a house on fire and inviting people to watch it as though it were a movie, something alluded to in the song – it is more the phrase, “You’ve just been taught that fire is always bad” from our discussion that really struck a chord (pun intended) in not only how I listen to the song, but my overall outlook on life. When you take time to really ponder “Burnt Yuppies” and all that it entails, you start noticing just exactly what Verskotzi is talking about: the mindless following of the rules just because someone says they’re the rules… and coming to that realization will make you question a lot of things in life. It is the eye-opening phrases and his abilities to hint at them in such a short amount of time that I find remarkable.
However melancholy or morose they may be, both “Blue” and “Abandoned Love” find their way onto my list as well. These downtempo tracks (really the only ones on Lemon Heart to begin with) are just so beautifully crafted that you really can’t help but love them.
Something that pushes “Abandoned Love” even further is the fact that it is the only track with a guest vocalist – Holly Hansen of Zoo Animal. The combination of vocals between Verskotzi and Hansen is absolutely stunning and they truly compliment each other throughout the song. Verskotzi says that Hansen is one of his favorite singer-songwriters in Minneapolis, adding, “She just has that raw, spontaneous energy that we wanted to capture on Lemon Heart… She exceeded all expectations we had and really took the track to a new level.” I absolutely agree with him on this one.
Overall, yes, I am quite aware that I essentially listed half the album as noteworthy, but I did it because it is true. Lemon Heart has so much to offer as an album and listening to it in its entirety is the best way to understand that. Verskotzi has such artistry and craftsmanship with his music that it is a journey, a “complete experience” as he would say, and I can guarantee that his music is something everyone can relate to.
If I said I wasn’t stoked for the release of Waving next month, I would be lying (and not just because it is being released on my birthday). I can’t wait to hear what Verskotzi has been working on this past year, especially after I’ve given Lemon Heart a good thorough listen again.
VERSKOTZI is Joey Verskotzi, Izaac Burkhart, Ian Allison, and Grady Kenevan.
Listen to Lemon Heart on Bandcamp today.
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