Malin Pettersen
Wildhorse


4.0
excellent

Review

by Sowing STAFF
October 16th, 2020 | 21 replies


Release Date: 10/16/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Malin Pettersen's full-length debut is spellbinding and beautiful; another notch in the win column for 2020's country music scene.

Serene and sublime, Wildhorse is the sound of traveling across the countryside on a crisp autumn afternoon. There’s a wistful yet liberated aura, as if Pettersen has invited us to travel through a collage of memories with her. Classical pianos sparkle iridescently like church bells brightening an otherwise grayscale industrial town, while the guitars slide with an effortlessly rustic twang that drives us through the adjacent, winding hillsides. Lightly strummed acoustics splash throughout the background like waves crashing into shore on a sunny afternoon – enough to offer up placid scenery without distracting from the even grander landscape. Malin’s voice hovers above it all, smooth and majestic – an eagle circling over the yellow mazes of corn and patchwork green/orange treetops. Wildhorse is, by Malin’s own estimation, an album about “travel, movement, longing, discovery and wonder” – and it’s a theme that can be immediately felt here.

Stylistically, Malin Pettersen draws from some of the best in modern country. Wildhorse was recorded with musicians who have played alongside the likes of Kacey Musgraves and Colter Wall, and the uncanny magnetism that those artists regularly exude is on display with Pettersen’s full-length debut. It’s an album whose atmosphere dips into the ethereal while the candid, storytelling lyrics keep its boots dug into the dirt. Those who have followed country/folk/Americana throughout the pandemic might liken it to Jess Williamson’s Sorceress – a record of similar instrumental variety that washes over you like a daydream.

Wildhorse is at its best when its otherworldly ether flourishes: ‘Particles’ could soundtrack a boat slowly sailing out at sunset with its lazy tropical sway, ‘Holding Lonely’s cascading piano outro sounds like an ascension into the clouds while looking down upon the thousand shimmering diamonds of the ocean’s surface, and ‘Mr. Memory’s transformation from rural country-folk ditty to breathtaking ambience is like leaving the homestead to venture into a mystical forest. Much of Wildhorse’s aesthetics deal not in black or white but in shades of gray – the area between the Earth and the sky. It’s a beautiful space to occupy, and it lifts country’s often one-dimensional aesthetic to new heights.

Even when Pettersen’s songs are grounded and more traditional, she pulls it all off like a seasoned veteran of the genre. ‘I Don’t Care’s rustic fiddles sound like a sibling to Phoebe Bridgers’ ‘Graceland Too’, while ‘Let’s Go Out’ picks up the tempo and enters a more conventional country-rock sound space. Regardless of which direction Malin’s whims carry Wildhorse though, the execution is always superb thanks to her balance between creative, patient songwriting and downright pristine production. There’s a very level flow here, even as Pettersen blends rootsier country/folk with more ambient, nontraditional influences that sound like they could have descended from Golden Hour or Starmaker. This doesn’t quite blaze a trail that brilliant or novel, but Wildhorse is still very charming and refined – a forced to be reckoned with in a year that has already seen modern country music take a quantum leap forward.



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user ratings (16)
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sowing
Moderator
October 16th 2020


39082 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Could see this easily becoming a 4.5/5. Wildhorse is truly beautiful.

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JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
October 16th 2020


40928 Comments


bold to use a tinydesk concert still as album art. i rate it

Digging: Trophy Scars - Astral Pariah

ChoccyPhilly
October 16th 2020


13384 Comments


Country time you say??

Digging: Parov Stelar - The Princess

Minushuman24
October 17th 2020


4839 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

she's so pretty

ChoccyPhilly
October 17th 2020


13384 Comments


Interesting, she's Norwegian. Would never have guessed after hearing this

Minushuman24
October 17th 2020


4839 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is way better than kacey

joshieboy
October 18th 2020


7866 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

'this is way better than kacey'



you had my curiosity, but now you have my attention

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
October 18th 2020


3363 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this was mostly lovely, wish these albums would leave out songs like 'let's go out' though

Digging: Nightcrush - You Mark Me the Deepest

Sowing
Moderator
October 18th 2020


39082 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah that's one of the more conventional country-pop tunes here, not her best but I'll still take it over your run of the mill radio country.

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
October 18th 2020


3363 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

for sure! it's just a shame that it kind of ruins an otherwise consistently 'pretty' record, emily scott robinson's album has the same issue with 'white hot country mess'

GotDoritos
October 18th 2020


25 Comments


with those recommended albums how could i not check this out!

joshieboy
October 19th 2020


7866 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is nice but the better than Kacey call is off

mvdu
October 20th 2020


969 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review. As you said, the songs do have a familiar vibe, yet it felt like her own. Had to get used to her voice, which is a bit helium sounding. But good album.

DadKungFu
October 21st 2020


1259 Comments


so far i have to agree with the better than kacey call. Love this so far

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
October 22nd 2020


2763 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think this album's a tad hit and miss, but Queen Of The Meadow is a country classic for sure

Sowing
Moderator
October 22nd 2020


39082 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah disagreed that she's better than Kacey, but she's in the same arena for sure. I do agree that this is hit-or-miss at times, although her ceiling is high and her floor is low, meaning that her best songs are amazing and her worst songs are still decent.

Megabomberman
November 6th 2020


123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Beautiful album, very pleasant listen.

Pho3nix
November 6th 2020


1157 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not too shabby! this and 'Holy Motors' really showcase the potential of European country.



Excited to hear more.

NorthernSkylark
March 22nd 2021


11646 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pretty, clean and well executed country. There are certainly worse thing in life.

Digging: The Pentangle - Basket of Light

Sowing
Moderator
March 23rd 2021


39082 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love her sound. Still play a lot of these tracks with frequency.



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