The Wandering Hearts plus support from Pearl Charles
London country/folk/pop group the Wandering Hearts have followed in the footsteps of Ward Thomas, the Staves, and the Shires as part of the vanguard in the new British Americana scene of the mid-2010s. The seeds of the band were sown in late 2015 when Tara Wilcox and Tim Prottey-Jones found themselves singing at the same gig, and immediately hit it off, given their shared background. Both were hard-bitten pros: Wilcox, with years of experience under her belt, had her own singing school, while Prottey-Jones was a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and actor. Shortly thereafter, they were introduced by mutual friends to singer/guitarist A.J. Dean (an alumnus of British rock & rollers the Bluejays) and Francesca “Chess” Whiffin, also a former musical theatre performer.
Christening themselves the Paper Hearts, the band recorded two demo songs, “Today Is Ours” and “Sunshine,” which they uploaded to SoundCloud, leading to a flurry of immediate interest. The deft fingerpicking, rousing choruses, dark-hued lyrics, and sweet, close vocal harmonies drew comparisons to Fleetwood Mac, whom the band later acknowledged as a major influence, along with First Aid Kit, the Civil Wars, Tom Petty, Simon & Garfunkel, and Cara Dillon. Within a month, they had been invited to audition for Decca, who signed them on the spot. Rebranded the Wandering Hearts, probably to avoid confusion with other acts with the same name, they played a number of high-profile festival shows in 2016, and released their debut single, the bittersweet “Wish I Could,” early in 2017. Their eponymous debut album followed in September of that year. A deluxe edition added eight bonus tracks, and the band spent time playing a number of British festivals, including Latitude, Black Deer, and BST Hyde Park. Invited to the U.S. by country maverick Marty Stuart, the Wandering Hearts played both the Ryman and the Grand Ole Opry (becoming the first British band to debut at both venues in the same week). As they worked on their second album, the group — reduced to a trio with the departure of Prottey-Jones — continued performing, including the C2C Country to Country festival at the O2 in London, CMA Fest in Nashville, and a support slot for Jack Savoretti; their self-titled second record arrived in 2020.