With his second solo LP, Wand’s Cory Hanson casts off the loner folk shroud that draped his debut, weaving lush orchestrations and a ripple of country into a bittersweet pop gem that’s among his best recordings. While Wand may be wading into the prog pond, Hanson’s chosen less brittle environs for Pale Horse Rider. He’s hung an outsider psych slant on the roll-up to the album, but it’s bit of a feint as nothing inside the sleeve on the LP is anywhere near as lysergically lit as the puppet laced videos or this light show lead live session would like you to believe. The record thrives without pretense. It’s packed with late night lonesome wanders into the empty streets. Under waxed moon pedal steel and atmospheric synths curling like smoke through the streetlamps, “Angeles” and “Vegas Knights” push themselves to the top of his catalog, instantly endearing themselves as the soul-strung explorations of ache that we so desperately need when the world seems to have knocked loose of its axis.
With a plaintive lope of piano behind him and fiddles fawning at the dawn-lit sky, Hanson’s at his most assured, even when the tone is that of a lost traveler searching for the missing pieces of his soul among the sands. On Pale Horse Rider, Cory transcends Wand, creating an album that’s pleading with fate to find him. He’s tending to the wound hidden beneath the the layers of skin and sinew — that internal seep that’s slowly cementing the tidal breath. While the tremble in his voice speaks of sadness, the sun breaks by the end of the record. It’s an overcast vista that might not be the dawn we seek, but a way out of the darkness all the same. This one’s pushing up with the best of the year. It’s a rescue blanket after the crash that lets the tremors settle and the thoughts coagulate for what’s next.
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