Sweetfeed – “Highway of Hearts”
By Jay Armstrong
What a relief! Not for Justin Smith stepping into the spotlight as Sweetfeed—that certainly is cool and many of us find ourselves rejoicing with a softly whispered, deeply felt, “FINALLY” but I say thank you simply for the fact that it does not suck. Whatever talent I am lacking, life has doubly made up for in luck. Nothing proves it more than being part of a circle where Smith is in the fold of friends whose common thread is great people passionate about experiencing life as the journey. Each person humbly creating phenomenal art of every type. Generally speaking, great artists stand out by how everything they touch is gold. They are philosophers whose wide-eyed contemplations allow them to understand how to translate their minds through their hands. You feel it in their presence. From his Rolland Hazzard days all the way through The Reputations; Smith has grown as a bass player, showing huge sparks of possibilities with his songwriting along the way. But as Springsteen said, “it’s a bit of a walk” going from being great on stage to being center stage. Most friends—even those in bands I would recommend you check out any night of the week—put out albums whose best compliment could be said they are forgettably brave. My heart has broke to often staring at a blank screen not able to find an angle good enough to skate around what is lacking in typing out something positive. Fearing heartbreak once more, it took me two weeks to play the first Sweetfeed single, “Picture of My Heart,” only to be hit with the force of spiritual rebirth which comes as one realizes how out of place their doubts were when acknowledging foolishness in the wake of such monumental perfection.
“Highway of Hearts” continues the can’t-get-the-volume-high-enough excitement. These songs hype themselves. Without a doubt, my neighbors know them word for word. I like to imagine we were singing along together at three am last night; the cops never showed so let us assume that is the case. Sure it would be easy to fall back on the crutch of comparison but what good does saying these songs have a 1975 aesthetic seen through a White Mystery lens when no doubt you feel the same as I do pressing play that they note as an arrival the moment progress hit a new high-water mark signifying the potential of music being further pushed into proven potential. These two songs balance coming-up creative fire with a polished first album on a major label texture—doubly impressive in their being self-produced. They have a soul that does not shy away from pop, retaining a raw truthful conviction. Beyond the personal enjoyment found listening through them is an ideal reminder of when a song is great, all genre descriptors come off shallow as their perfection is grasped without effort, quantifying them is unnecessary. A damn fine song speaks for itself…and these are damn fine songs.
There is a rhythmically layered catchiness to “Highway of Hearts.” Each line dancing on its own as though an entire chorus plays out with every five words that pass. It is soundtrack music crafted in a spiritual alignment with Jackson Browne by way of Kenny Loggins with such a Badfinger sort of truthfulness keeping the vibe weighted in an idolized experience. This song ends in the way the best dreams do, with our eyes held closed wishing it was not over.
There are plans for a full Sweetfeed album coming out near the end of 2021. Seeing as this year looks to continue on our laughably tragic peculiarity of unfortunate week-to-week unpredictable abstractions keeping us from normality, I kinda hope he just puts out one song a month along the way to keep lifting our spirits. You will know for sure when a date is set as soon as we do.