JPR Live Session: Vandaveer

Aug 19, 2016

Having written his most personal collection of songs to date, Mark Charles Heidinger initially planned to strip the recording process of Vandaveer's new album down to as few elements as possible, pursuing a more direct, minimalist approach. But after huddling with vocalist, Rose Guerin, and long-time producer, Duane Lundy, they charted a new course, enveloping these autobiographical vignettes with a full spectrum of sound. And with more than a little help from their friends. The trio called in brothers-in-arms, J. Tom Hnatow, Robby Cosenza and Justin Craig, for a prolonged session of sonic wayfinding.

What emerged is musical alchemy—these are songs fully realized; this is Vandaveer fully formed. The album’s title, The Wild Mercury, is an apt allusion to the musical explorations therein, fluid and bright, reaching from the traditions of Americana into modern pop soundscapes. The end result—a set of songs honest and wry, personal yet utterly relatable—proves that solitary journeys can find deeper, more meaningful truths through collective exploration.

Heidinger’s saturated vocals alternately soothe and electrify. When paired with Guerin’s angelic, bittersweet alto, the two create quicksilver harmonies. Long the defining quality of Vandaveer’s shapeshifting sound, this amalgam comes into full focus here. And throughout, Heidinger’s undeniable gift for storytelling shines as he reflects on possibilities forfeited, on narratives yet to be formed from the raw materials of the past. These are songs from a father to a child, a musician to his muse, a bandmate to a brother—songs of parting and return, of joy and melancholy, of life with all its paradoxes, of beauty, both indelible and ephemeral. With poignant, everyman narratives and striking, folk-based harmonies, Vandaveer loosely fall under the Americana umbrella, but the band regularly elbow their way into wider spaces with a kaleidoscopic assortment of sounds.