This debut album has its moments, but it’s often an arduous journey through all-too-familiar territory.
Horseshoes is a moniker for self-confessed ‘melancholy folk’ singer-songwriter, Austin Greaves, who is based in Washington D.C. On ‘Near Sided Vision’, the opening track on his debut album, ‘Desert’, he certainly lives up to his job description. With acoustic guitar, violin and piano accompaniment, it’s a stripped-back ballad about transience – “Near sided vision, squinting at myself from afar”– and sees him: “Wishing I was drinking and smoking again.” It’s a fitting way to start an album, which, says Greaves, is about coming to terms with the past and considering the future.
Second song, ‘Euphoria at Dawn’ is musically a different beast – it’s an upbeat, down and dirty country rocker – but, once again, it references Greaves turning his back on wilder times, as he sings about how he used to do all-night coke and booze sessions.
‘Nothing Important’, a warm, americana shuffle with pedal steel and some nice electric guitar licks, is the best thing here. It recalls Wilco’s less experimental moments – Greaves cites Jeff Tweedy as a big influence, alongside Elliott Smith.
‘Haunted House’ is a pleasant enough but unremarkable love song with an oddly jarring guitar riff that threatens to send it careering off the dirt road that Greaves mentions in the lyric. Similarly forgettable is the alt-country chug of ‘Oakwood Terrace’ – a strumming acoustic guitar opening soon gives way to more rockier overtones.
‘Rattlesnakes’ – “I’ve been bitten too many times” – is just another so-so, violin-laced, folky ballad rearing its head, and the title of ‘Running In Circles’ tells you all you need to know about the song.
‘Desert’ isn’t a bad debut album, it’s just nothing we haven’t heard before – and done much better.
Horseshoes is travelling down a well-worn path.
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