Album Review

Marty Connors
Spring has finally come, I can tell by the unmistakeable itch in my eyes and all the extra money I've been spending on Kleenex boxes lately. I've always thought it would be nice to be one of those people that could lay in the grass with someone special, a gentle breeze turning the leaves above us, and just kind of exist for awhile. Probably nap (I'm a tired guy). But seasonal allergies will always rule out that possibility for me, which is a shame since Horse Feathers' new album Thistled Spring feels like the perfect soundtrack for this kind of afternoon.

Strummed acoustic guitar and banjo dance throughout the ten songs on the album, backed by a simple string accompaniment. It's the modest string lines that are the true stars of Thistled Spring. The way they accent each song is sometimes breathtaking. On “Cascades,” for example, a tension builds throughout the verses, the strings slowly building until the chorus offers the resolution in the bowed bass lines. It's strongly effective, and similar techniques are used on the other songs as well, whether it be a well placed string melody or an entering bass drum. Instruments enter and leave songs at will, yet, there doesn't seem to be one note or instrument out of place on the entire album.

Much like the instrumentation, the vocals have a quiet power. Justin Ringle has a soft voice, but it's never overwhelmed by the music surrounding it. They're perfect compliments of each other. Subtle use of vocal harmonies weave in and out, strengthening the frameworks of the songs. And, like the way the strings are used, Ringle and company know exactly when the vocals should be hushed, and when they should be stronger.

But all of this is just over-analyzing the simple truth: this is a beautiful album. The perfect album to listen to while you're sitting outside, the spring breeze rustling around you. I'll just be inside, blowing my nose.