Picks and Pans Review: Matters of the Heart
You think three old studio veterans like the boys in Restless Heart don't study the charts? They saw the big dent Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles made on the Top Country Album index all year. So at a crossroads in their career, with pivotal band members Larry Stewart and Dave Innis having departed, the remaining trio—John Dittrich, Paul Gregg and Greg Jennings—went out and delivered a homegrown, southern version of a classic Eagles album.
That's a compliment. Matters of the Heart is a sweet suite of pop-heavy country, even if the Eagles' influence can be a little overbearing at times. "Hold You Now" sounds just like one of those lambent romancers J.D. Souther wrote for the now-renascent '70s supergroup. And try to listen to "Sweet Whiskey Lies" ("He ain't geltin' no younger/ But he still feels the hunger") without hearing "Desperado."
Not everything is derivative, but this collection of snappy, chiming melodies and sublime yet subtle harmonies is all strong. Okay, it may be a little too coy to qualify as the second coming of "Hotel California." So welcome to the Hotel Nashville. Kick up your shoes. Set a spell. (RCA)