83Music Review

Bend Oregon singer/songwriter Eric Tollefson's sophomore album The Polar Ends, levitates in that space between blues and pop so well, it begs for the emotional response associated with the blues while still staying catchy and sing-a-long worthy. The release is a giant leap from the singer’s debut album and is filled with much more of Tollefson's heart. Evidence of that is found upfront on the record’s first track, “Heart On A String”. Cleverly, the song opens with cello and scratches the itch for redemption that sets in when we fall short of an ideal relationship. From there, Tollefson launches into a foursome of rough and tumble songs with raw edges that dig deep into the listener’s skin. The guitar on these tracks helps to construct beats as much as the drums do. In fact, there is such defined tempo in the guitar work that, these songs could easily stand on their own without percussion. Horns added to the cut “Whose Love” by members of Brooklyn band Rubblebucket are perhaps the most welcome contribution on the entire album and when paired with the blues rock foundation, displace your heart into your gut. Before the heart can rise to its correct location, Tollefson allows it to linger lower a little longer with the gritty track “Render Me Helpless”. A song that features pedal steel player Eric Heywood (of Son Volt and Ray Lamontagne), “Render” speaks to the darkness of relational desperation. There isn’t a single track on The Polar Ends that doesn’t rise and fall just as the human heart can. It is a collection of eight songs that contain descriptions of mankind as seen from a distance as much as from close up and personal. In some ways it can be devastating and in some ways uplifting… just like life.