ALBUM REVIEW: "Hymns for a Dark Horse" by Bowerbirds
Hymns for a Dark Horse
To play a Bowerbirds track is to immediately transport oneself to somewhere warm and innocent, if not in actual location then by sheer light-footed pleasure. Hymns for a Dark Horse’s folky, guitar-driven songs are captivating, with Phil Moore’s gently picked acoustic augmented by Beth Tacular’s wheezing accordion and Mark Paulson’s haunting drum bangs. Moore’s voice is airy and pure to the point of plain loveliness, and the messages it shares are of a quality just as wholesome â€“ the Bowerbirds combine the utter beauty in the art of songcraft with snippets of a world where destructive human concerns aren’t all that matter. Their songs are one with nature not only in that they seem most suited for a back porch or campfire, but in their frank declarations that we’re destroying the earth. These guys were green before it was cool.
The stories take place in the forest, at sea, or among the animals, and much like nature’s cyclical ways the album as a whole seems to embody one lifetime. The achingly lovely opener “Hooves” is a birthing tale rich with Homeric imagery, where bare string plucks back the voice of our narrator as the fable begins. On the upbeat “My Oldest Memory,” Spanish-style guitar and dreamy violin meet tambourine clangs, and Moore tells of life experience through a personified wise old tree. The story is made complete with the joyful “Slow Down,” where a pair of crabs retire from the bustle of daily life where beauty is too often forgotten. All these metaphoric moments serve as a reminder to appreciate nature, so that Hymns for a Dark Horse delivers a fine message along with its downright pleasant ditties.