Band of Horses – Acoustic at The Ryman
The best ideas are the simplest ones. Band of Horses playing an acoustic set. Now that’s a genius idea. The guys like to thrash out the heavy numbers. And they can be really good at them. But some of the best Band of Horses songs are the more thoughtful ones. ‘Window Blues’ from Cease To Begin, ‘Slow Cruel Hands of Time’ from Mirage Rock and the magnificent ‘Reilly’s Dream’ from the Sonic Ranch sessions. Now, having debuted the idea on a Spotify exclusive, they’ve taken a bunch of their most well-known songs and given them the full acoustic treatment. And at The Ryman no less. The good news is that they sound great. The interplay of the piano with the guitars works really well, keeping the melody up front while giving the songs a nice new sound. ‘The Funeral’ really stands out and ‘Factory’ picks up a melancholy that was slightly buried before. But they do make a couple of strange choices. For one, there are no drums. Maybe it makes things more acoustic, more authentic, but it also means that some of the arrangements lack a little lustre. And then there’s the song selection. For the most part, they’ve chosen tracks that are already pretty down tempo. ‘Neighbor’, ‘Marry Song’, ‘The Funeral’, ‘Detlef Schrempf’. Only a couple of choices are originally up tempo numbers. One, ‘Wicked Gil’, is totally transformed. Slowed down, it’s almost unrecognisable and in a really good way. But, amazingly, ‘Weed Party’ is the revelation. While sometimes the down tempo song selection make things sound just a little too reverential, this one is allowed to retain its zip. It’s only a shame that it’s not on the standard version of the album and that a few more like it aren’t included in the set. (Tip: try You Tube). Band of Horses acoustic at The Ryman is a genuinely good idea that works really well. Next time, break out the drums, play ‘Ode To LRC’ and things would be perfect.
Pitchfork review (oh dear!)