Horse Feathers - Appreciation - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Horse Feathers - Appreciation

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:9 Release Date:2018-05-04
Horse Feathers - Appreciation
Horse Feathers - Appreciation

Justin Ringle goes country soul. That would be a simple (and simplified) description of Appreciation, the sixth album by Portland folk/country rockers Horse Feathers. Ringle, the band’s singer and key songwriter has obviously decided to expand his sound perspectives, and, again, simply put, he’s done it for the good.

The country soul combination is nothing new, but it has to be done really well to work. Think Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham or Stephen Stills in his Manassas period. Of course, the list does not stop there, but you can certainly add Justin and his Horse Feathers now (try the brilliant "Hex", here). Ringle obviously knew where the key lies, so he gave his rhythm section a refresher, which in turn, along with more expansive arrangements, gave his music and lyrics more space to breathe and another dimension. No wonder it took him four years to come up with Appreciation after So It is with Us from 2014.

Ringle hasn't just made a sharp turn into another sound, but has melded his previous elements, like the violin sound, here prominent on “Broken Beak”, and wielded the new soulful leanings together with them. The combination works perfectly on “Don’t Mean To Pry” a song that can be called a fresh prime example of what country soul sounds like. One thing remains constant though, Ringle’s excellent vocals are still the driving force behind Horse Feathers’ sound.

Ringle’s lyrical acumen remains sharp as it was, with the darker visions and view still prevailing. They are just given another set of musical clothes to wear. “Work!” exclaims Ringle as the “Without Applause” opens the album diving right into joblessness - “it’s not the drinking but the worry that does you in”. Right to the point. There, and elsewhere on the album.

The more upbeat sound that is prevalent on the album does not forsake the more ballad-oriented material (beautiful “Evictions”), making Ringle’s musical changes more evolutionary than revolutionary. And Appreciation is certainly better for it. It is an album that has a definitive tendency to grow on the listener.

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