Thursday, September 11, 2008

Horse Feathers - House with No Home

I will admit that I am a big fan of folk music in its many diverse forms; freak folk, indie folk, broke folk, folk pop and so on... I love the earthy tones born in the marriage of guitar and a soft voice. I love all the sounds that can be thrown into a folk song; like the random people that dance in and out of our lives they are what make the music memorable. I love the emotional charge associated with folk music; and the stories that have shaped the lives of listeners. I love that all it takes is a person and a guitar to make a folk architect, weaving words around subtle melodies.

Okay, okay… I like folk music. On to the review:

Horse Feathers' "House with No Home" is unique in its simplicity and beautiful in its complexity; if that makes sense and is at all possible. Here, let me try to explain. You take, for example, a freak folk pioneer like Phosphorescent; layers and layers of sounds, noises, organic instruments, back-up vocals layered over each other up to 10 times. This is thick complicated music, yet at its roots; Folk. On the other end you have the puritan Tom Brosseau; methodically intertwining words, melody, guitar and that’s it! His last effort, Cavalier (fat cat), was recorded in 7 days and is beautiful. Somewhere in the middle you’ll find Horse Feathers, simple because he doesn’t complicate the music with strange sounds but complex because some of the string orchestrations are fantastic.

I just read that last paragraph and realized that I used an insane amount of punctuation. I’ll try to do better.

Don’t think that this is one of those simple records. The easy listening, Amos Lee, Jack Johnson type, categorized in Best Buy under the same genre as Kenny G. (I can’t believe I just said THAT name on my blog, sorry.) The instrumentation on this album is what really stands out. The first song, Curs in the Weeds, is a beautiful song but the true instrumentation comes out in Rude to Rile. By the third song, Working Poor; mandolin and banjo are introduced just to hook you into the album.

Though Justin Ringle is Horse Feathers; he is sure to give, Heather Broderick, Peter Broderick and others credit. I’m not sure if these musicians played a primary roll in the composition of the album. Certainly, there is something hypnotic about this record and the way all the instruments tangle together.

Lastly, I would be doing this record an injustice if I didn’t mention the way Justin’s melodic voice wraps around the record like a cool autumn evening (I can’t wait for cool weather, can you tell?).

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