Vandaveer – Dig Down Deep (2011)

FrontCover1.jpgVandaveer is an American, Louisville, KY-based indie-folk musical project, spearheaded by singer-songwriter Mark Charles Heidinger. Vandaveer has released five albums and three EPs since 2007, touring extensively throughout the US and Europe, logging over 1200 shows to date.

Vandaveer began performing as a solo artist in late 2006, releasing his debut record, Grace & Speed, in the spring of 2007 on the now-defunct DC label, Gypsy Eyes Records. Rose Guerin began singing with Vandaveer in mid-2007 and has been a permanent fixture since. Robby Cosenza, Justin Craig and J. Tom Hnatow (all formerly of These United States) are regular collaborators with Vandaveer both in the studio and on stage. 2009 saw the release of Vandaveer’s second full-length LP, Divide & Conquer, on the Supply & Demand Music label in the US and Alter K Records in Europe.

In 2010, Vandaveer self-released the five-song EP, A Minor Spell, a stark, lo-fi homemade recording centered largely around the vocal pairing of Heidinger and Guerin.

In April 2011, the band released their third full-length record, entitled Dig Down Deep, again via Supply & Demand Music and Alter K Records.

Vandeveer01.jpgVandaveer’s fourth full-length LP, Oh, Willie Please… was released in April 2013, via Quack Media. The album, featuring J. Tom Hnatow on dobro, piano, pedal steel and acoustic guitar and Phillips Saylor on clawhammer banjo and acoustic guitar, is a collection of traditional folk songs, mostly murder ballads and songs of self-ruin, and was inspired in part by the band’s participation in The 78 Project in December, 2011.

On February 16, 2016, Vandaveer released their fifth full-length LP, The Wild Mercury. Timothy Monger of AllMusic called The Wild Mercury “…perhaps his most personal and well-constructed collection yet.”  Dylan Weller of Splash Magazine gave the album a score of 8/10 and said, “Their old-timey sound of angelic harmonies combined with hearty rustic guitar leads to a titillating production.”

Prior to Vandaveer, Heidinger was the primary vocalist, guitarist and songwriter for The Apparitions from Lexington, KY.

Vandaveer has been featured in Vincent Moon’s La Blogotheque series of live music encounters, called Take Away Shows. The video for “Pretty Polly,” the first single from Oh, Willie, Please… stars David Yow (The Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid) and Tricia Vessey, and was directed by long-time Vandaveer video & film collaborator Jared Varava. (by wikipedia)

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And here´s their third album:

As the title to Vandaveer‘s third album suggests, frontman Mark Charles Heidinger gets even more personal with his songwriting on these forthright batch of new tunes, while also clearly identifying with his countrified Kentucky roots. Dig Down Deep is a delicate collection of artfully crafted Americana that pulses with an honesty and elegance that ultimately makes these songs memorable while also sounding distinctly timeworn and familiar, even upon first listen. Rose Guerin’s lovely vocal harmonies augment each number with a deeper tenderness and added intimacy, as the duo’s weathered voices blend seamlessly over the sparse, wispy arrangements.

The hymn-like title track opens the record splendidly, as the muted strum of Heidinger’s acoustic guitar eventually gives way to an uplifting piano strain and muted drums that elevate the song to its rousing chorus. It’s a striking start that surely will catch any listener’s attention, but the band switch gears a bit on the rootsy ‘Concerning Past & Future Conquests’ (as they do consistently throughout the record), which has a poppier melody and echoes Damien Rice a bit both in the vocal delivery and raw emotion conveyed by Heidinger and Guerin. There is an old-world sound to each of these numbers, which is a testament to the subtle beauty of Heidinger’s songwriting, but also to the subtle, understated production that never piles on more sonic layers than these refined songs can handle.

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‘Beat, Beat, My Heart’ is the longest track on the record, and even though it comes near the start, it forms the sturdy centerpiece of the album. The restrained guitar work featured throughout the track gives the song a real front-porch singalong feel, as if we have gathered around the duo as they sing to a reassuring roomful of friends. It’s a moving, genuine track that works because of its discerning nature, never trying for anything more grand or overreaching for fear of sounding false. The emotions conveyed by these stirring songs always come across cleanly and bristle with an authenticity that only adds to the lingering sentiment the listener is left with after spending time with the record.

‘The Great Gray’ injects a palatable sadness to the middle portion of the album, which continues with the mournful, bluesy piano of ‘As A Matter Of Fact,’ which colours the song with a disconsolate passion that is easy to identify with. But they snap out of their doldrums on the boisterous ‘The Nature Of Our Kind,’ a spirited, emphatic number that is one of the clear standouts of Dig Down Deep, and surely will get fans singing along on the rousing chorus. And rather than sticking out awkwardly after the string of downtempo numbers, the track fits seamlessly within the confines of the emotional spectrum set by these songs, and the record flows impeccably from start to finish.

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After the driving urgency of ‘Spite’ and ‘Pick Up The Pace,’ the album concludes with the impassioned solemnity of ‘AOK’ and ‘The Walking Hour.’ The latter track comes across as a bit of a tragic lullaby that, despite its somber undertones and harrowing lyrics, at least provides a welcome bit of serenity for both the singer and listener alike after the tender, revealing sentiments expressed throughout the recording. It’s a strong finish to an album that touches a clear nerve, featuring songs that make you feel but also make you move at the right moments. And it’s ultimately quite refreshing to hear something this honest and heartfelt coming out of Washington, DC. Let’s just hope that some of the leaders are listening. (Erik Thompson)

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Personnel:
Rose Guerin (vocals, guitar)
Mark Charles Heidinger (all instruments, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Dig Down Deep 4.03
02. Concerning Past & Future Conquests 3.17
03. Beat, Beat, My Heart 5.52
04. The Great Gray 2.37
05. As A Matter Of Fact 4.42
06. The Nature Of Our Kind 3.38
07. Spite 2.40
08. Pick Up The Pace 2.26
09. AOK 4.45
10. The Waking Hour 5.35

All songs written by Mark Charles Heidinger

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