Tiers and Other Stories
Tiers: And Other Stories is something of a departure for Richard X. Heyman. First, it is a two-CD set (the New York City-based singer/songwriter usually puts out single CDs). And second, it is a concept album
ock opera from someone who isn't known for concept albums or rock operas. But saying that Tiers: And Other Stories is something of a departure for Heyman is not to say that it is a radical departure from his previous output. The songs on this 2011 release tend to have a more theatrical quality than one usually expects from Heyman, but for all its ambition, Tiers is quite accessible. And there is never any doubt that Heyman is still a master of power pop and jangly guitar pop. So what is the concept? Tiers is an autobiographical effort that finds Heyman (who produced and arranged the double-disc set and wrote all of the songs) looking back on events in his life; the first disc, Tiers, focuses specifically on his relationship with his wife Nancy Leigh (whom he married in the late ''80s), while the second disc, And Other Stories, is more general. Some concept albums don't work very well unless one listens to them nonstop from start to finish, but that isn't the case with Tiers: And Other Stories. All of these songs, whether it is "There's a Train" or "Fire in the Country," or "Wild Souls," work well on their own, and as parts of a creatively successful concept album, but "Branded in the Sky," "Horizon," and "Game Stays the Same" (just to give a few examples) are great songs even if one listens to them without thinking about the overall concept. Thankfully, Heyman's ambition doesn't make him any less hooky or any less infectious on the excellent Tiers: And Other Stories.