Horse Feathers, Thistled Spring (Kill Rock Stars, 2010)

Horse Feathers are a distinctive quartet hailing from Portland, Oregon.  Justin Ringle sings and plays a bunch of instruments (mainly guitar though), Nathan Crockett plays violin and viola, Catherine Odell plays cello, and Sam Cooper plays just about everything but primarily the banjo.  Their sound can be best described as "chamber folk," with a classical touch added to some pleasantly rustic songs. Thistled Spring is their third album.

Ringle does the singing and songwriting, but the whole band contribute significantly to the finished product, and I think that's a big reason why Thistled Spring works so well.  The guitar and banjo blend together seamlessly, and Crockett and Odell do a fine job varying the feel of the string arrangements from stately to folksy to aggressive.  "Belly of June" stands out as the clear choice for a single, and the percussive "The Drought" and the darker "Veronia Blues" are solid as well, but the album really doesn't waste a track.

Thistled Spring is an impressive effort from a group that mix some basic musical ideas together and come up with something fresh and interesting.  Justin Ringle shows considerable promise as a singer/songwriter, and the rest of Horse Feathers do some fine supportive work as well.

Overall grade: A-

reviewed by Scott

"Belly of June"

No comments: