Brown Shoe creates intricate, huge, pop songs, glacially moving things with arena-rock heft behind them. Guitars ring out to the rafters, Ryan Baggeley’s voice pushing out powerfully. This stuff insists you hear it, its parts tightly woven but rarely subtle, instead crowding you up with layers. The Gift Horse tries for a cinematic size right from the start, on a 6-minute opener, and builds nicely enough to a grinding squall in the end. On the way, Baggeley tells us “I can carry a million pounds on my back / But a feather on my chest could break my heart”.
This kind of hyperbole, simultaneously self pitying and self congratulatory, runs all over The Gift Horse. The music itself plods on with its mid-tempo weight, and sometimes its swirl of guitars is effective. In the middle of all that, though, we have these melodramatic lines being directed at females that are little more than objects on the periphery, things on which these narrators can inflict their feelings. More than once, the subject is instructed to take her dress off. “Colt Rider” sings of a “cold girl with a fever for it between her legs now” while “Sweet Crazy Baby” talks of “your tears from all your loins aching.” In the end, all the weighty emotions of The Gift Horse seem directed more at getting laid than at anything else, and the delivery of that want is unsettling, the women here too often objectified in service of some formless crisis the narrator is going through. This is an album with a sound big enough to reach to the rafters, but it trudges its way there. Meanwhile, the words never quite make it past the bedposts.
- Multiple songs MySpace
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.
// Notes from the Road
"Drive-By Truckers gave a sold out capacity crowd a powerful two hour set filled with scuzzy guitars and deeply political rock.READ the article