Album Review: Fruit Bats – A River Running to Your Heart


Fruit Bats have come a long way since their first release over two decades ago. They jumped into the indie-folk scene with a moody, feel-good Western spark in their first album in 2001, Echolocation, and have been exploring that same sound ever since.

Reemerging with the release of their tenth album, A River Running to Your Heart, Fruit Bats have hit a new ripened sound that we’ve been waiting for. The album is a true expression of home, belonging, and emotion—common themes they often write about but have perfected this time.

Fruit Bats are the brainchild of singer-songwriter Eric D. Johnson and began releasing music in the early 2000s. Known for indie roots with a dash of midwestern twang, Fruit Bats have become a prominent name in the indie folk scene over the past couple of decades.

A River Running to Your Heart is their tenth full-length release produced by Johnson himself—a first for him with the band. Johnson kept true to his midwestern roots on this album, filling it with reflection and hints of old-school Fruit Bats.

A River Running to Your Heart stands out amongst the rest of their releases as a more orchestrated and whole album. It feels as though Johnson took the time to explore his comprehensive range of musical stylings here. Where some artists can get messy, Johnson excelled at creating a sonically broad, eclectic album.

A River Running to Your Heart is a very fluid album, articulately sequenced with each track in its perfect place that effortlessly fades into one another. However, each track can still be a strong, lone single– a clear sign of a well-made album.

The album opens with a 50-second atmospheric introduction, “Dim North Star,” ending on a lingering note which starts the first whole track, “Rushin’ River Valley, ” creating a perfect synergy to start the album. One of the first singles released from the album, Fruit Bats start us off with a feel-good arrangement—one thing they’ve historically never failed to do.

“See the World By Night” takes us on the road with Johnson, looking back at where we came from and around at the world around us. If this album has you imagining yourself taking a road trip from your hometown, this song will mark the moment you hit your first stretch of highway.

“We Used to Live Here” is a more laid-back track off of this album, taking us back to the places we used to know that still linger with us.

There are quite a few standout tracks on this album. From the summer soundtrack “Waking up in Los Angeles” to the windows-down-singing-along-vibing “Sick of This Feeling,” Johnson has curated an album that is both introspective and lively.

Johnson has always paid attention to his environment, painting landscapes in his tracks. However, this album delivers something slightly different and more nostalgic– exploring what it means for a home to be just beyond a place.

Even if you’ve never been to the landscapes of Tacoma or Los Angeles, anyone can find some connection to their home in these songs. They’ll remind you of backyard summer parties or driving down your hometown’s highway at night.

Each song on this album is memorable and buoyant. It’s rare that an album can foster such good feelings throughout the whole discography, but A River Running to Your Heart keeps the same spiritedness from the first note to the last. Full of vim and vigor, this album feels like the point Fruit Bats has been trying to reach throughout their career.

You can listen to the album here.

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