Features
Reviews
Must Hear Music
Reviews Archives
Archives
Bargain Basement
Downloads
Music DVD
Upstart
Pipsqueaks
 
 
 
Features
Reviews
Archives
Send Us Mail
Contact Us
 
 

Horse Opera
Sounds Of The Desert
(self-released)
www.horseoperamusic.com


Comfy country music with tasty bits of pedal steel, baritone and 12-string guitars, mandolin and harmonica, and Jimmy Deveney's warm, welcoming vocals that garner sympathy for his road-weary, lovelorn woes. Nothing earth-shattering here, but the musicianship is solid, the songs nicely constructed. Those were my initial thoughts in the first few tracks of Horse Opera's Sound Of The Desert, until I reached the deceptively cheery "3 to Closing." From within what appears at first listen a predictable 'beers and brawls' seedy saloon romp, a chilling sense of isolation and heartbreaking regret peeks out, raising the bar and piquing my interest.

While the sentiments are usually quite noble in your average country song, I'm a "words girl" and I'm often disappointed and bored by simplistic, clichéd phrases and easy rhymes. So when my ear grasps a little bit of poetry, I get really excited. "I've got prayer cards, and silver saint medals, and a mind for repetition / I live somewhere in the balance between faith and superstition / But you'll seldom hear me complain / 'cause I've already circled the drain." - "St. Celcila". Ok, so it's not Shakespeare, but there's definitely something there in these tales of lost love and self-loathing. Tastefully added harmonies and delightful guitar and pedal steel sweeten the deal.

Kudos to Jimmy Deveney and Ben Sparks for their stellar production and engineering. No unnecessary additives; simple and effective. It's spare and clean, with crisp strings, bass lines and drum beats that stand out and sparkle, and the vocals pouring out front and center with earnest clarity.

"Spaghetti Mess" is a lovely instrumental interlude in just the right place. The title shows humor and humility, but the music gallops along admirably with some fine rhythm and delicate guitar licks. I'm not a 'spaghetti western' expert, but I'd have to say it's a fine job.

At times the lyrics are hackneyed and predictable ("Mother Mary help me 'cause I'm on that hellbound train…"), but the music stays strong, so an occasional slip back into weary, well-worn grooves can be forgiven.

The songwriting gets slick again in "Salty Tears", which also features tight harmonies. "I see it all too clearly now 'cause my hindsight is perfect / it works so well I keep my foresight in my back pocket / Suffered the slings and arrows of righteous indignation / Well the truth will set me free, but it's offered no salvation…" "I Won't Run" is another standout - a romantically sweet ode to commitment phobia, with nice placement of homey harmonica.

They close with Scott Akers' "Best Day", in which he takes the songwriting and lead vocal helm for a wildly upbeat jitterbug romp. It's an immediate jolt out of the wistfulness that pervades the album; perhaps they felt they should end on a more positive note? While well executed, it feels a little abrupt after the guilty pleasure of a shared late night self-pity party.

- Julie Stoller

Check out more reviews

Talk Back
e-mail the chief

Like this article?
e-mail it to a friend!

 


Mike Doughty



none now
-------


South By Southwest 2014
David DeVoe

South By Southwest 2013
David DeVoe

Red Hook Music Festival
George Dow

SXSW 2012
David DeVoe

Our Favorite Records 2011
Hybrid Staff

AWOLNation
Rachel Fredrickson

Kanrocksas
Rachel Fredrickson

Warped Tour 2011
Rachel Fredrickson

Eddie Spaghetti
Melissa Skrbic-Huss

Murder By Death
Mike DeLeo


Mike Doughty
Boulder, CO

Epilogues
Denver, CO

Imagine Dragons
Denver, CO

Sebadoh
Cambridge, MA

Young Magic
Denver, CO

Warped Tour 2012
Denver, CO

Thrice
Denver, CO

Mike Doughty
Denver, CO

MuteMath
Kansas City, MO

Other Lives
Lawrence, KS

Los Campesinos
Boston, MA

The Civil Wars
Lawrence, KS

Ha Ha Tonka
Lawrence, KS

Thrice
Lawrence, KS


 
hybridmagazine.com is updated daily except when it isn't.
New film reviews are posted every week like faulty clockwork.
Wanna write for hybrid? Send us an e-mail.
© 1996-2009 [noun] digital media. All rights reserved worldwide. All content on hybridmagazine.com and levelheadedmusic.com is the intellectual property of Hybrid Magazine and its respective creators. No part of hybridmagazine.com or levelheadedmusic.com may be reproduced in any format without expressed written permission. For complete masthead and physical mailing address, Click Here.