Brown Horse

Somehow it’s been quiet crowds on this side of the Atlantic for Norwich’s Brown Horse, but all that should change following the release of the band’s debut last week. Scrawling similar circles as labelmates The Hanging Stars, the band mixes open-skied Americana with touches of ‘90s alt-Country, while also echoing aughts indie outfits with wounded pasts. Opener “Stealing Horses” and its follow-up, the title track “Reservoir, are both doused with the storyteller soul and wild-eyed earnestness of works emanating from the Shearwater/Okkervil axis. The band tempers the tempest as the album wears on, but they don’t lose that sense of narrative sway.

The record is refined, but ragged at the same time. The studio’s left its footprints on the band, but its easy to see that no matter how many small embellishments are added, at heart, this is a band that’s more comfortable bleeding light on stage. The heat of the record emanates through the spools and out into the room. There’s friction, darkness, desperation, and desire woven through its threads. There’s also joy. It’s not all furrowed brows and heavy hearts. Bittersweet and bouyant, “Sunfisher” proves the band has a wry smile somewhere in their repertoire as well. The song aches, but its more about letting go than lamenting. In an album built on the bones of catharsis, it’s easy to feel drained by the time the last notes wrangle ‘round, but Reservoir leaves the listener feeling like they lived through the deluge and came out clean. It’s an impressive debut, and hopefully just the beginning of something brewing on the Eastern shores.

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