When I opened the envelope this album arrived within a couple months back, I took one look at the cover- before reading the names or anything else- and thought, ‘Why is Red House sending me a Tom Russell album?” Of course, they weren’t but the painting gracing the cover immediately revealed itself to me as a Russell; his distinctive use of colour and shape identified itself to me within a second.
As impressive as the cover art is, the music contained on the disc is equally memorable and, yes, distinctive. My review has been posted to Lonesome Road Review. I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts, too. Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
Red House Records
4 stars (out of 5)
By Donald Teplyske
With three of the most appealing voices in modern folk, Red Horse is composed of Eliza Gilkyson, John Gorka, and Lucy Kaplansky.
For this exciting collaboration, each of the singers selected a favoured number from their colleagues on which to take the lead. They also revisit one of their own songs within this harmony-rich setting. Sung by Gilkyson, “I Am a Child” is a familiar highlight, but the writer’s own material is not overwhelmed by the Neil Young classic.
There is a focused gentleness about the project indicative of the mastery these singers bring to their craft. Mature and thoughtful, not a word is wasted and neither is an instrumental ornamentation misplaced. Gorka’s resonant voice at turns contrasts and blends with his companions. Gilkyson carries within her voice the wisdom of the ages while Kaplansky brings some pop nuance, softening the largely introspective lyrics.
The only new song is Gorka’s “If These Walls Could Talk,” a haunting piece that fits nicely with the mood generated by Kaplansky’s interpretation of “Sanctuary.” The aura of Stan Rogers surrounds “Coshieville,” sung by Gorka.
Reminiscent of a folk festival session captured for posterity, Red Horse brings together wonderful songs, voices, and instrumentation to celebrate the hopefulness that must permeate the heart of the troubadour.