The Head & the Heart’s new album, Living Mirage, is a sleeker, poppier production than their three prior albums. However, as demonstrated by their recent Santa Barbara Bowl performance, the band’s still retained the raw talent, organic feel, and genuine passion that fans have come to expect.
After a spirited opening from indie pop band Hippo Campus, the group hit the stage with gusto. Lead singer Johnathan Russell, sporting a white suit and matching fedora, demonstrated strong showman chops as well as a beautiful range of vocal stylings from husky folk to finely tuned falsetto. The group dove into hits such as “All We Ever Knew” and “Let’s Be Still” while also soaring into the strong pop melodies of their latest singles such as “Missed Connection” and “See You Through My Eyes.”
Singer and violinist Charity Rose Thielen’s sweetly eccentric voice contrasted perfectly with Russell’s. Like clockwork, she was greeted with a round of applause each time she sang. With a light breeze and majestic mountain backdrop, not much was needed in terms of set design, but their twinkling multicolored lights added a tasteful touch of magic to the summer air.
In my favorite moment of the night, Russell sat at the piano alone for a stunningly simple ballad called “Life’s One Big Mystery.” It hasn’t been released yet but is the kind of song that feels like an old friend. Russell’s earnest voice, delicate melody, and poignant lyrics wasted no time diving straight into the heart. As evidenced by the band’s rousing encore of their classic “Rivers and Roads,” although they’ve put their heads into crafting perfect pop songs, it’s their heart that continues to capture audiences.