First impressions are everything with new artists, bringing their shiniest work to the table, enticing an audience, putting out their heart for the world to see. What’s rare is starting where Bareheart has, a true heart laid bare, holding it up to prove it still beats.
Although it’s a debut project, Barehart isn’t actually new here. The alias applies to Tyler (TJ) Collins, one-third of Texas hardcore band Least of These. His first solo album is appropriately titled In the Mo(u)rning, highlighting the circle of life, loss coupled with new beginnings. Its ethos is healing because, as many albums illustrating relational severance, it hits on all five stages Elizabeth Kuebler Ross established in the grieving process. It’s what Bareheart does best, and it’s played out on the EP: Approach hardship with hope. Grief is an inevitability, it’s how we move forward and cope that matters.
The tracks are a musical mixed bag, despite Bareheart’s ability to lyrically mourn with purpose. The freeform structure of “Parados” is distracting because it’s not quite spoken word and not quite acoustic prose. It’s a blues variant and doesn’t have a framework, but, if you approach it as a mission to expel pain, helps to frame the art. (It might also be the most impressive vocal performance from Collins on the EP.)
“Outcast” is all too familiar. It has the simple strumming pattern and bare acoustic sound of every praise and worship song; that’s not a burn, but it is a truth: There is a worship sound, and this is it. The earnestness is sincere, and there is power in the simplicity of it – otherwise, we wouldn’t see the immense success of Christian contemporary music. Strings are done elegantly and add some delicate breath, and, despite how familiar the sound, there is a feeling of spiritual authenticity.
To listen to “Nothing Wrong” is to witness unmasked the brutal pain associated with being left for someone else. It can be uncomfortable to receive that as a listener, but it is a testament to Bareheart’s ability to convey emotional depth and helps to set them apart as an artist. The track will resonate with anyone who has had the misfortune of living this song’s story firsthand; it captures the anguish while grasping the chapters that follow.
It’s in this realm where Bareheart thrives. The rest of the EP bears this out, where Collins makes his hurt sound beautiful, the audio metaphor of how pain in life can yield beauty. “Home” is a story about growing pains in the aftermath of loss. “Rain” creates a feeling of grasping at air, hoping there is something left to hold onto; the heartbreak is truly almost palpable. And yet, Collins carries on with the track as it closes out the album – the same way he does each song – wholly representative of a soundtrack to the most vulnerable parts of a person’s life giving way to the unwavering hope of tomorrow.