Burns’ proves soothing

Tom Gabel, frontman of Against Me!, has come full circle in his career with his debut solo album, Heart Burns.

It seems like an eternity ago when Against Me! was just Gabel and an acoustic guitar, before becoming the full rock band it is today. With Heart Burns, Gabel returns to his stripped-down roots making some of his best music to date. Heart Burns is seven tracks of passionate, inspired songwriting, which consists of equal parts of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Joe Strummer. The cult following that propelled Against Me! from the Gainesville, Florida punk scene to one of the most important bands in modern rock, have always lauded Gabel as one of this era’s great American songwriters.

"Random Hearts" begins the album as a battle cry with distorted Interpol-like guitars and a drum machine over Gabel shouting "Random hearts that beat for each other / Random hearts in a cruel, cruel world." The next track, "Conceptual Paths" is Gabel at his best, telling the tale of uncertainty, poverty and real-life problems of people trying to figure out when their next meal will be.

Gabel sings an anti-war anthem about Vietnam in a catchy, protest sing-along called "Cowards Sing at Night." Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba lends backup vocals to "Amputations," which could easily be a song off Against Me!’s New Wave album. Another friend of Gabel’s appears with Chuck Ragan of Hot Water Music fame, playing harmonica on "Anna is a Stool Pigeon"

It is hard to recall anyone in recent memory sing with so much passionate fury as Gabel does on "Harsh Realms." The song is the best on the record and the best song Gabel has penned thus far. The album closes with "100 Years of War" warning the youth of "xenophobia and global warming."

Gabel will be playing with Ben Nichols, Tim Barry and Chuck Ragan on Sunday in Austin for Fun Fun Fun Fest.

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