Edmonton’s Rob Heath has been writing and performing for decades, but Biggest Moments is the first of his recordings to make its way to me.
Created in physical if not creative isolation, Bigger Moments collects songs written by Heath and his co-writers over a number of years, songs that have waited for the right time to be placed alongside appropriate companions.
The first three numbers provide hints to the breadth of that which follows. “Biggest Moments” is a concise tale of the importance a stranger’s regard can have on one in need, while “The Highwayman” is a reworking of the seemingly ancient tale, a story of love and sacrifice, with “Broken Down Ol’ Heart” evidence that the shattered can heal given the right partner. Beautiful writing with exquisite execution.
There is no shortage of moments with which to connect among Heath’s eleven songs. A freedom-loving gran (“69 Camaro,” co-written with Rebecca Lynn Howard) takes her husband’s folly for a spin, while flummoxed fellas try to understand their lot (“We Play Checkers, They Play Chess,” co-written with Tom Schneider).
The metaphor of The Game of Kings is revisited in “The Game,” a gentle song co-written by Edmonton music mainstay Kathy Kirby. Written with Heath shortly before Kirby received her terminal diagnosis, the song’s lyrics are prophetic:
“Will we look back and see
What we hoped life would be
And just smile,
Life doesn’t depend
On the way it ends…”
As we tend to do, Heath mines his mother’s childhood for one of the album’s most profound songs, “When the Devil Grows Wings.” It is a song of poverty, innocence, and redemption, and one obviously significant to Heath’s outlook within Biggest Moments.
Acoustic-based, the album is very much a reflection of Heath and the past two years. Drums, bass, and harpsichord from Stew Kirkwood are contributed, as is cello from Ian Woodman and viola from Shannon Johnson. The album packaging, design, and photography appear uncredited, but are appreciated for their simplicity and direct utilization of images and colour.
While the contributions of his collaborators are noted and important to the album’s construction and sound, Bigger Moments very much has an individual feel: what one walks away remembering is the connection Heath builds with his listener.