The new album by Missoula's own Wartime Blues starts off with the swell of a keyboard set to sound like an organ and the voice of Nate Hegyi telling us something: "The tiger I beat / Was in my headlights crawling, / dragging a crippled little paw. / I felt something of the good inside me. / Now I don't feel at all." Then drums and piano, a violin and a synthesizer, come in to accompany this self-loathing confession of a man who has done violence to a tiger, who wants to know "When will you ever stop / Just thinking about yourself?" It's a great song. It's built thick with sound but still feels open.
As the album moves forward through its 10 tracks, the progress continues. Wartime Blues keeps expanding their sound and Heygi keeps seeing a landscape populated by people like "a Navajo [who] washes his face in the sink / And looks in the mirror, / Says, 'God how I've aged.'" There are pop songs and anthems. There's pedal steel. There's eight people playing everything from the mandolin to the cello. There's a lot on this album and almost all of it is great.
Wartime Blues plays a CD release party at the Top Hat Friday, Nov. 4, at 10 PM. $5.