Young Antiques – Another Risk of the Heart

It’s a mixed up muddled up shook up world. Down is up, evil is good, dumb is smart, ignorance is bliss. When you take all that into consideration, it makes sense that Young Antiques have never been one of Atlanta’s hippest, most talked about bands. That still doesn’t make it right. This album, as tremendous and reaffirming as it is, probably won’t change much of that. Too-cool-for-school 20-year-olds who always think they’re the first ones to discover everything fed to them somehow never discover anything as good as this. But two decades into it, I doubt the Young Antiques give a shit. They’re steadfastly untrendy, and brother, now that they’re well into middle age they are entrenched in their ways. And more power to them.

Their first album in nine years (and holy shit how that seems like last week) blasts off with an apropos celebration of lettin’ loose and throwin’ back. Gentleman Jesse sang of a “Highland Crawler,” now Young Antiques give us the “Euclid Creeper,” complete with fidgety piano percussion (courtesy vocalist/guitarist Blake Rainey) and Tom Cheshire and Chris Lopez cozying up on the background shouts. It’s a rousing anthem for escaping the shackles, if only for a night, but is Rainey saying “drugs and rock and roll” or “drunks and rock and roll”? Either way, the ’Tiques have plenty of experience in the matter, and it describes any given weekend night stumbling all around on Euclid Ave. or the corner of Flat Shoals and Glenwood, where Jeff Shipman’s back cover photo for Another Risk of the Heart was snapped.

And about that title track. Oh, man… it’s not that it says anything new or profound ‘bout the often-unmanageable emotional coin toss between falling (back) in love or falling (back) apart, but it doesn’t need to. Its simplicity, honesty, vulnerability and tenderness are what make it work, all encapsulated within Rainey’s vocal performance along with faint traces of soul that aren’t typically apparent. It’s deceptively low key; in truth, “Another Risk of the Heart” could be Rainey’s greatest song.

There’s more midlife nostalgic reflection taking place in “’92,” a rockin’ tale of a budding friendship during the grunge era. Elsewhere, Cheshire returns to mumble like a drunk old black man at various points during “Armies in the Alley,” while the feeling-sorry-for-myself weeper “Goin’ Home” gives Kelly Hogan a good excuse to chime in on background vocals.

Rainey – who spent much of the time since the last Young Antiques album (2011’s A Man, Not a Biography) fronting a group affectionately dubbed His Demons – is a certifiably skillful lyricist, possessing a perfect voice with which to express his accounts of love and sadness, loneliness and recklessness. It’s like an audible mirror of a restless heart – a rolling blend of aching desire, earnest sensitivity, deep regret, dejection, determination, wistfulness, gruff and scruff. I don’t really remember him playing much piano on their other albums, but it fills out tracks like “I Think You’ll Never” really nicely. The whole band, in fact – Rainey, bassist/backing vocalist Blake Parris and early drummer John Speaks (back on his first ‘Tiques album since 2003’s Clockworker) – they sound so energized and together on this recording. They sound adult. Grown up, but not worn out. I don’t know why that surprises me. But damned if they’ve haven’t matured, with grace and vigor and passion, and truly come into their own.

Young Antiques
Another Risk of the Heart
[Southern Lovers]