High Horses, Wade In The Shallows - album review
Birmingham folk-rockers High Horses know how to genre bend, as this debut LP shows.
It's 10 tracks blending elements of folk, rock, rhythm & blues, soul and bluegrass. And the melted down and amalgamated outcome is pleasing at every turn.
Fronted by brothers Adam and Simon Heath, they use guitar, drum, bass, saxophone, flute, violin and vocal harmony to create atmospheric and punchy tunes full of impending danger at one juncture and lazy river swells at another.
Waiting So Long encases the former. The agitated, aggy mixture of sax, violin, guitar and percussion builds a wall of impending doom. It's like being a sea fisherman watching that giant wave tower over the boat in the storm. The building crescendos sound great and the screeched vocals over the top only add to the fear factor.
And the antithesis is the title track. Light guitar swerves and swoons like a lazy summer's day. The harmonised chorus is like Mumford & Sons in full swing, a tune lifted straight from the soundtrack of the Coen Brothers' epic O Brother, Where Art Thou?
But even this track explodes into a big finale where Becky Walker's saxophone takes over and leads the rest of the band on a merry dance as Saul Hillier's bass waggles its backside from side to side like John Travolta strutting his stuff in Pulp Fiction.
Ebb Flow has a lot of funk infused into the undercurrent. Again, Hillier shines with a slapping bass line and the rest of the band dance over the top like The Coral at their finest. The understated rock in this song is relaxed but seeking a fight. The aggressive tones are always threatening to spill over.
And the masterpiece here is Crossroads. We are lucky here that a lot of records drop onto the desk asking for our opinion. Little has struck a chord with this writer more than this track recently.
The stomping percussion from Charlie Smith is majestic, capturing the imagination and holding it in a vice-like grip. The big-hitting instrumentals between the verses are mesmerising as that scratched guitar wails like a siren over the top. Sounding very much like Brother & Bones' Omaha, it's wonderful.