Review Summary: "Thistled Spring" further refines Horse Feathers' warm brand of folk with the welcome addition of some subtle instrumental touches.
The weather is truly atrocious at the moment. This winter has been relentless; the gutters have been flooded with rain and the windows whipped with wind for days on end now, and there's sadly no respite in sight. Such stark and forlorn weather tends to affect you in time, grinding away at contentment until all you're left with is a sense of despondency that reflects the mud and frost that surrounds you - or at least that's how I feel. It's for these reasons that I find Horse Feathers so endearing: it's clear that Justin Ringle and co. understand the seasons and the emotions that each is associated with and draw from them heavily. While House With No Home
represented the cold, dark and isolating nature of winter, Thistled Spring
encompasses the warmth and wonderful subtlety that manifests with the arrival of spring and grants you just a touch of its vibrancy.
The things that have characterised the band ever since they debuted with Words Are Dead
are thankfully still intact, but many of the songs have been adorned with instrumentation that was previously foreign to the band. The eponymous track does away with guitar and instead features a refreshing piano that adds a whole new dimension to the record. It also underlines the small improvements Ringle's voice has seen; his approach to vocal duties is strengthened by a newfound confidence that's resulted in slightly more powerful performances, like that of "Vernonia Blues". The song is a change of pace for Horse Feathers, injecting a toe-tapping tempo and a little bluesy grit into their typically serene sound. "Cascades" is the darkest song on the album; here the band utilised a brand of sluggish percussion (similar to that of "Falling Through the Roof") to accentuate Justin's quaint storytelling. A particularly gorgeous violin-driven crescendo breaks into an unaccompanied moment in which Ringle croons "I'm just where you left me, alone by them lilacs.
" Such honestly and flourishing songwriting gives Thistled Spring
a nostalgic quality that serves to warm you during the coldest of winters.