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Bartees Strange, 'Heavy Heart'

Bartees Strange's debut album, 2020's Live Forever, was a result of hard work — a decade spent working various nonprofit and political gigs while Bartees "grinded and worked on music just as hard in the background," as he told NPR Music — paying off. An eclectic triumph of a record, Live Forever landed him on several year-end best-of lists and even earned him a performance on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

That success is the subject of Bartees' new single, "Heavy Heart." Guilt – for the sacrifices his parents have made, for his time away from home while on tour, for succeeding while the world is falling apart – weighs on his mind as he sings, "I never want to miss you this bad / I never meant to run out like that / sometimes I feel just like my dad / rushing around." Still, the single is also a reflection on finding optimism despite the heaviness, and it comes alongside another level-up: the announcement that he's signed with 4AD. With its urgent drums, layers of guitar riffs and celebratory horns, "Heavy Heart" is a testament to Bartees' ability to build an intricate and expansive song that doesn't sacrifice its emotional core.

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