On the final track of Horse Feathers’s third LP, Justin Ringle croons, “by winter’s end you may come back to life.” With the devastating warmth found on Thistled Spring, it’d be impossible to not.
The piano and strings on the opening, self-titled track are so beautiful you just sink into yourself, relaxed and happy despite the underlying sense of melancholy. Banjo, guitar, and cavernous drums complete the sound on the album, creating songs that are as welcome in the cab of an old Ford pickup on a deserted road as they are in a cowboy movie (“Vernonia Blues”). Hovering under the instrumentation is Ringle’s wounded tenor, spouting, pleading, asking such things as “stay awhile with me…hold a hand with no ring” so convincingly saying no is a near impossibility, even with the cold grip of death on your arm (“The Widower”).
Essentially, Thistled Spring makes me nostalgic for a life I never had – part Little House on the Prairie, part Carnivale – and a great love I have yet to lose. I realize that may make the album sound dated, unaccessible, and depressing, but it’s none of those things. Thistled Spring calls to mind the honesty of a first kiss, the spark that comes with the moment you realize it’s love, and the bite of realizing possibly forever has become the definite past. With no song falling solely in any of these particular stages, Horse Feathers gives us an album that floats somewhere in the space only found in those sun-drenched moments between wakefulness and sleep.
Thistled Spring drops 04.20.10.
Tour dates and more here.