There’s not a weird thing about Your Heart Belongs To The Midwest
. Nothing. It’s exactly the sort of album you would expect from a singer-songwriter who wears worn-down Against Me! tees and tours like his life depends on someday reaching his millionth show. The jaunty album begins with “Bro Downs Know No Bounds,” a track whose name might frighten you off-- but don’t fret. “Bro Downs” is the epitome of everything right on this record, as Warren’s exuberance and sincerity shine through the holes amid flourishes of horns and acoustic danciness. It holds the gritty yells that would make Tom Gabel proud and the sort of folk/punk mesh of songwriting that would make Andrew Jackson Jihad jealous. At its best, Your Heart Belongs To The Midwest
serves as a spirited mix of homey acoustic tunes and wailing (in which you can basically hear Warren Franklin smiling as he sings) that leaves your heart just a little bit warmer upon listening.
It wouldn’t be a fair trial though, without mentioning the fact that Franklin can’t quite hold a candle to the aforementioned bands, not yet at least. It’s worth mentioning that no tracks really hold a candle to the opener, even if this is
a pretty high standard to expect. What slowly becomes the most interesting battle on Your Heart Belongs
is the mundanity and redundancy (let’s be honest here, the album’s been done before) that the record so often borders on and the ways in which Franklin tries to combat this. He comes close to beating it down, really. Franklin isn’t alone in this battle, thankfully. Members of The Island of Misfit Toys provide the backing, and the unexpected inclusions of horns, mandolins, organs and a variety of instrumental accompaniments provide an original leg for Your Heart
to stand on. This aspect is most evident on the eclectic collaborations on “You Get Weary” and its clappy follower “You've Never Heard ‘My Aim Is True,’” and it also showcases Franklin’s kinship with other bands that he attempts to convey throughout the album, as well.
Even with a team of musicians and collaborators behind his cause, Franklin can’t help but fall into territory that’s been perfected time and time again, and frankly doesn’t need to be perfected an umpteenth time. At times it sounds like he’s singing on sincerity only, like it’s his last remaining asset. And it is
convincing! If nothing else, his ability to stretch his voice to surprising limits like on the raucous “Bro Downs.” Besides the occasional yelling, it’s so smooth, Warren Franklin’s sophomore effort. Sometimes that smoothness melds into a sort of indistinguishable wishy-washiness though, and it becomes fairly indistinguishable at points-- more so later in the piece. Upon entering the studio, Warren originally planned on recording four songs, but the birth of this impromptu LP came when an additional five sprung up, sort of like corn on the midwest plains.
In the end though, it sounds far too harsh to speak about Your Heart Belongs To The Midwest
in terms of originality. Rather, it’s an exercise in sincerity, and an obvious one at that. Warren Franklin is all about the lovable candor, the infectious exuberance that permeates strum after strum of his sophomore album. The lighthearted blitheness is reminiscent of more than a few artists that have traveled similar paths; but given its due time, Your Heart Belongs To The Midwest
innocently and inevitably carves out its home in-between your ears, until your heart belongs to Warren Franklin.