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Heart Song Warrior – The Medicine Wheel – Album Review

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The Medicine Wheel is the debut release from Montreal’s Heart Song Warrior. Conceptually it focuses on the “five sacred elements of the shamanic medicine wheel,” doing so with five lengthy, spiritual tracks. Composer and producer Julien Valiquette, lyricist Trisha Pope and violinist Estelle Tison, use a practiced instrumentation and open minds to pilot this unique brand of progressive folk.

The first song “Water” begins with the soothing sounds of the tide, which introduce a piano and guitar duet that feels organic and almost medieval. Then Valiquette and Pope’s voices dance out along the instruments and into your aural orifices. At eight-and-a-half minutes it’s the longest song on the album, admittedly feeling a bit redundant at times, but beautiful nonetheless. “Earth” begins with pounding drums and some spoken word type poetry, calling upon the natural relationship between the human body and the Earth. A low piano line slowly overtakes the drum beating, stealing the spotlight for a moment and making way for a more powerful re-entry with passionate singing. Graceful string work characterizes the group’s message very well as one can almost feel the bow’s draw along the wood and string with every breath of the lungs. Eventually accompanied by Pope’s flute the track becomes much more full than it’s predecessor, ending with some tribal-like drone chanting.

“Air” starts with some breathy, harmonic “oo’s” and opens up into the most classically polished track and on the LP. Easily orchestral and intangibly effervescent, the track does its namesake well by providing a spatial, atmospheric sound that highlights something different for you with each play through. The dynamic composition takes emotions on a drastic ride with only slight changes in its musical elements. “Fire” begins with a playful plucking melody on guitar and a staccato piano scale run wavering around it. Transitioning more into a serious ballad by the continued use of Pope’s spoken word in call-and-response with Valiquette’s cathartic singing. The track concludes with an emotional build up and the perfect acoustic guitar tone alone makes it my favourite on the record.

“Spirit” is the instinctive conclusion. A single bell “ding” and a few lines sung a cappella welcome back a friendly piano that speaks in tandem with a guitar and bass. Putting The Medicine Wheel to bed with the mesmerizing final verse:

“In the hearth of your soul 
A homecoming to your true belonging 
A companionship with everything 

Through all the great seasons of life 
It is always there 
A deep well of love within 

The still point in the center of your heart 
The one who knows”

Heart Song Warrior connect with nature to make beautiful music so that you can feel beautiful about yourself and your surroundings while listening.

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