Review: The Commonheart’s ‘Pressure’ Will Make You Feel the Love

Pressure - Commonheart
The Commonheart’s brand of upbeat rock’n’soul is a beautiful twist on the past; a reworking of the classics for the modern age.

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Some singers need only a piano, while for others a guitar and drums are sufficient. Then there’s the ones who have a voice so rafter-rattlingly powerful they need a nine-person super-band behind them, just to contain it. 

The Commonheart’s Clinton Clegg is the living embodiment of the third.

Pressure - Commonheart

Pressure – The Commonheart Album Art

With all the passion, beauty and breathtaking choirs of a Baptist Church service that’s been scrubbed of religion, the band’s new album Pressure is a soul-moving experience that leaves the listener energized and optimistic—two emotions in short-supply these days. 

Channeling Sam Cooke and Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, the Pittsburgh nine-piece—complete with women backing singers, bass, drums, guitars, a horn section and keyboards—delivers a catharsis that’s tangible. But, they’re not just airing their own grievances: Their positive sermons spread love and sense of community that we need—with equally necessary, funky bass lines on the side. 

“Blues music is sad as hell, but it makes you feel good,” Clegg said in the lead up to the album’s release. This mystery is compounded in The Commonheart’s brand of upbeat rock ’n’ soul, which is a beautiful twist on the past—a reworking of the classics for the modern age. 

Clegg’s powerful voice stops you dead in your tracks, but the band behind him know how to give the song exactly what it needs. It’s never chaotic, never a sense of too much, making every verse a complete thought before bounding on to the next moment. 

This restraint could be Pressure’s best quality.  

Listen: Pressure – The Commonheart

The album opens with a quintessential Commonheart sound on “Show Me The Light”, with saxophones soaring, guitars growling, and Clegg crooning. It’s a magnificent combination, creating a song that simultaneously moves your feet and your soul—a perfect introduction to Pressure

It’s followed by “Wait, a standout song obviously inspired by Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” (as both the climbing bass line and Clegg himself have confirmed)—but is still very much its own: It starts out slow, sparse, and stirring, with the keyboards repeating a simple but moving refrain before moving into a rockier ending, complete with roaring trumpets. Like so many moments on this album, “Wait” is rounded out by Clegg’s grizzly, Charles Bradley-esque voice. 

I was a drifter
When I found you
Scared of love
And the evil it can do
I took my time
Then I hurried up
Beat on doors
With no luck
 I ain’t no angel
I ain’t no saint
I’m the one that will wait
Watch: “Wait” – The Commonheart


 The women backing vocals on this chorus contrasts so well with Clegg’s gruff delivery that it creates a complete sound—a musical salt-and-sugar.

Though the record’s  thirty-six minutes has no weak moments, track five of 10 rises above the rest: The painfully raw “Memory. Recorded with the full band, in the dark, on the day Clegg’s sister died, the pain drips off of every note.

I can’t be with you
In the cellar no more
I can’t be with you
When your phone is closed
I can’t be with you
Just to turn out the light
I can’t be with you
Tonight
Where I’ll be,
I’ll be in a place where my heart can always be free
I will be, I will be in your memory

It’s goosebump inducing,  awe-inspiring and a contender for song of the year.

Spreading the Message of Positivity with The Commonheart

:: INTERVIEW ::

The Commonheart packs decades of rock, soul, and blues into a modern package. With the emotive pipes of Clinton Clegg at the helm and the talented ensemble behind him, it’s impossible not to feel the love they give. 

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Pressure - Commonheart

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Spreading the Message of Positivity: A Conversation with The Commonheart

Oliver Crook

Oliver Crook is a Canada-based journalist who has been playing guitar and deciphering lyrics since he first heard Sum 41’s “Fat Lip” blasting through his older brother’s bedroom walls. Although his taste has (somewhat) developed since then, his passion is just as strong as ever. When not writing about music, he can be found drinking too much coffee, complaining about the finickiness of avocados, and being disappointed by all of his favourite sports teams.