I remember the first time I listened to Horse Feathers. I was driving south on I-71 heading to Louisville, Kentucky and it was the kind of morning where when the sun rises, it immediately wakes you up to the day. I was awoken to Justin Ringle and his unique and soothing vocals that morning, with their second album House With No Home.
It’s only natural that my anticipation for a new Horse Feathers album would be high after that memorable experience. After all, I not only fell in love with House With No Home, but I went out and bought it and it’s predecessor Words Are Dead on vinyl and became a full fledged fan. So I have to admit, my expectations for Thistled Spring, the latest album from this Portland band, were pretty high. Maybe a little too high, because after all, I had an unreal expectation for the new album, expecting another awakening I guess, or at least something to shake the funk I am currently in when it comes to new music.
Thistled Spring may not be able to meet my admittedly unfair expectations, but deserves it’s share of praise as well. After all, the new album seems to be an awakening for the band in many ways. The songs of despair that we fell for on House With No Home, with it’s hollowed out winter landscape on the cover, seem to be reborn on Thistled Spring, which in many ways feels like the sprouts of green popping up in early March throughout the midwest.
And the progression instrumentally is obvious as well, as Ringle’s supporting cast not only backs his beautiful voice with the proper support, but adds layers to the songs that were seemingly more simple on previous albums. The symmetry between Ringle and violinist Nathan Crockett, cellist Catherine Odell, and multi-instrumentalist Sam Cooper is represented on songs like “Cascades” and the upbeat and hopefull “Belly Of June.”
So while the darker material may have been what drew me to Horse Feathers, it’s hard not to appreciate the steps forward the band are taking with this more hopeful and layered album. Thistled Spring might just be the perfect album to soundtrack your spring, and we suggest you give it a try.
Thistled Spring is out April 20th from Kill Rock Stars.