A piano echoes. A string section sweeps in, falls and then rises again. Then Justin Ringle’s voice emerges from the fog and dances with the lush instrumentation. This is how the title and first track of Horse Feathers’ new album Thistled Spring begins. The band specializes in a gorgeous, atmospheric brand of folk music that, with such an impressive arsenal of instruments, they are more suited to playing than most. The band’s current line-up features violin (Nathan Crockett), cello (Catherine Odell), banjo, and mandolin (Sam Cooper), all backing up Ringle’s acoustic guitar and effervescent voice.
5 Thing I Love About Horse Feathers:
1) Despite the fact that I labeled them ‘atmospheric folk’ with ‘lush instrumentation’ they let each song on Thistled Spring breath. They know how to use space in their music and rarely bury the song in sound. This allows Ringle’s voice to be fully appreciated for the unique instrument it is.
2) The band’s name is Horse Feathers. Though not named for the Marx Bros. movie, I’m just gonna pretend it was because it makes me happy.
3) Horse Feathers has toured with Twangville favorite Joe Pug. Sam Cooper also plays banjo with Pug on occasional live covers of Tom Wait’s “Ol’ 55”.
4) The song “This Bed” sounds like a re-worked R&B song. It’s really cool to hear such a thing presented on banjo and cello. Though these aren’t the sort of instruments you’d expect to translate such a song, it works. They’ve got soul, you know.
5) Their cover of Nirvana’s “Drain You” is the A-Side on their latest 7″. Here’s a live version.
So there you have it, Horse Feathers has 3 records out (the last two on Kill Rock Stars). I suggest you pick one up soon or check them out on tour.
RIYL: Iron & Wine, Bon Iver, Ray LaMontaigne
About the author: Specializes in Dead, Drunk, and Nakedness..... Former College Radio DJ and Current Craft Beer Nerd