REVIEW: The Lionhearted – Absolution (& Redemption)

Heartbreak is never easy. While that statement is oversimplified, Richie Ares’ solo project, theLionhearted, expounds on this idea exponentially on his debut EP.

Richie Pete Ares is a multi instrumentalist and singer-songwriter that has been involved in the local music scene for over 10 years. In that time, he has been involved in several different music projects, all with their own unique sound. While his music has evolved over this time, one thing that has never changed is the sincerity and passion behind what he writes.

Over the course of the seven songs on “Absolution (& Redemption),” theLionhearted takes you on a very personal journey of love and loss. Blending various styles, including emo, indie rock, and pop sensibilities, this local musician’s EP is a very well-rounded first offering for its listeners. Dynamic and passionate songwriting shine through.

One of my favorite features of this EP is how there are no breaks between tracks; every song flows right into the next, making it almost feel like one giant song. It’s clear that the artist has made this a piece of music that should be enjoyed in order from start to finish. Featuring an interlude, exitlude, and five fully formed songs ,Richie bares his soul for all to hear.

“(Desperation)” is a beautiful intro to the album. The simple, repeated line “I just called to say that I miss you” swells beautifully, and can immediately start to set the tone and scene for you, the listener. The next song, “Longing,” expands on these emotions. Subjects like long distance relationships, nostalgia, a deep love for someone, and heartache all come through on this track.

“Hearts” is definitely a standout on the album. The instrumentation and overall composition of this song is really tight. The lyrics cut like a knife, and are some of my favorite on the entire album:

“If love is so selfless, how come it seems to take away so much from me?”

Near the end we get a glimpse of the author’s internal conflict:

“Should I follow my heart and march to its beat?

Head back to the start… Find the healing I need…?”

Slamming right into the next track with this question in hand, “(Recognition)” is a spoken word piece that shows Richie at his most passionate, vehement, and direct on the entire album. This song translates well to being an “in the moment” snapshot in this album’s story. It’s packed with symbolism and imagery reminiscent of spoken word artists like La Dispute’s Jordan Dryer, Levi the Poet, Listener, and the like. Dripping with angst, his vocal techniques translate extremely well with the vocabulary and writing style he evokes to express the deep emotions, thoughts, and feelings of an unfaithful lover. By the time the track starts, all of the build up since the start of the album really grabs you. On my first listen, I was nearly moved to tears at this point.

The next two tracks, “Healing” and “Hands,” take a shift away from the doubt and uncertainty that have made up parts of tracks so far, and instead offer up themes of hope, solace, and acceptance. Richie’s faith plays a big role in these two tunes. Lines like “this is all I have…your healing” and “all I understand is the safety in these hands” show where he is taking comfort and solace in the midst of turmoil. It’s a good message for all to find peace and acceptance, whether religious or not, but is nonetheless a great testimony. The final track, “(Absolution),” ties a bow on these emotions and serves as a proper close to the release.

Rising above to turn a dark and broken situation into an opportunity to make art can be a myriad of things when an artist is in the midst of creating it; emotional, cathartic, vulnerable, and healing just to name a few. theLionhearted has seemed to do all of this in about 30 minutes on this debut EP. The music, lyrics, and storyline all form well to give you a cohesive piece. With an open mind (and ears), it can wreck you. This is the kind of honest art that makes music fully realized. It’s what keeps me interested and always looking to find new things. “Absolution” will pull at your heartstrings and make you think. In the end, isn’t that what we look for in music?

“Absolution (& Redemption)” is available for streaming and digital purchase here

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