Milwaukee-based trio Dead Horses have just unleashed their latest album, their third, Cartoon Moon and this is a magnificent mixture of Americana, traditional and country-based songs that exude warmth, thought, spiritual uplifting and skilled playing and vocal arrangements. Ken Coomer’s production is stellar, giving a clarity and crispness to the band’s sound and only enhances the quality of the songs/performances.
Vocalist Sarah Vos keeps her voice reigned in when necessary and lets loose with ease where the song calls for passion; beginning with “Golden Sky”, the tempo along with the emotion conveyed in the vocals is one of joy; the sound of acoustic guitar, stand-up bass, mandolin and brushed drum pattern is just right – a perfect table setter. “Red Pony” is slower, but still has that “join in” quality, driven by some great background harmonies and Peter Raboin’s mandolin figures; “All I Really Need To Know” is painted with deft touches of acoustic guitars, cello and is as close to “poppy” as you can hope and “Brothers” is in the more traditional country vein, with some delicious (electric) guitar runs, the kind that sends shivers down your spine, along with the impassioned vocals of Ms. Vos. “Long Way Down” is a very deep-soul track with that magnificent church organ sound and guitar twang trademark (and the guitar solo is absolutely tasteful); “In The Morning” is bouncy and playful, like that of a song circle that builds and builds and “Deep Blue Sea” is mournfully lovely, with the arrangements that kick in halfway through then withdraw, adding more drama to the song’s balance – but when the acoustic guitar solo closes the track, it takes it to another emotional level.
The songs from Dead Horses’ latest offering is, unquestionably, a breath of fresh air and pure water. It’s the kind of album that equals sun coming over a mountain and green fields; it’s as visual as it’s visceral and most importantly, this is an album you can take to heart.
Cartoon Moon is available now