Bonny Light Horseman
Rolling Golden Holy


3.2
good

Review

by Sunnyvale STAFF
October 11th, 2022 | 11 replies


Release Date: 2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Another pretty good effort from a supergroup

Folk/Americana supergroup Bonny Light Horseman attracted a fair degree of attention and a solid reception in 2020 for their self-titled debut. With a considerably experienced band lineup comprised of singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell, Fruit Bats frontman Eric D. Johnson, and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman, the trio turned their talents towards an album rich with historical material. Much of the tracklist of the group’s first album was reworked versions of centuries-old tunes, infused with generally traditionalist new songs. It was a credible approach, and one that helped to summon up the timeless feel which folk music often leans upon. With all that said, though, Bonny Light Horseman’s first effort didn’t really blow me away. Besides a trio of near-classic highlights (“Bonny Light Horseman”, “The Roving”, and “Mountain Rain”), the rest of the album felt pleasant but forgettable. In short, it was the typical somewhat disappointing effort of a so-called supergroup.

Despite my middling assessment of the band’s beginnings, I felt a touch of enthusiasm upon learning that the group was coming back with a sophomore effort, as Bonny Light Horseman had demonstrated at least some potential for a future stunner. Unfortunately, though, while Rolling Golden Holy is a slightly different animal than its predecessor, in the end it approaches the same results, albeit with slightly diminished returns. In regards to similarities, both albums are composed of ten songs, averaging very close to 3.5 minutes per track. Additionally, both albums follow (at least broadly) the same style, focused on gentle folk music with Americana overtones, with reworked traditional material included.

The main difference in style between releases is that the band’s second go-round is less focused on traditional songs (only two tracks, “Sweetbread” and “Fair Annie” originate from those sources) and leans more towards an accessible contemporary direction. The lyrics here feel a tad more generic, mostly devoted to romantic concerns, no mentions of Napoleon Bonaparte or John Henry to be found. That said, the two albums very much appeal to the same crowd, with their sleepy but undeniably pretty content, and notably wonderful vocals. Rolling Golden Holy has some highlights, most obviously a pair of achingly beautiful tearjerkers in “California” and “Someone To Weep For Me”, and the wonderful closer “Cold Rain And Snow”, which indeed reaches the “timeless” vibe the band aspires to. Unfortunately, though, as a whole this effort doesn’t quite match up to the group’s first album, even if that wasn’t an especially high bar to clear. Rolling Golden Holy is never anything less than pleasant, but most of the tracklist proves to be nothing more than that, and its highlight tunes don’t compare favorably to their massively-successful correspondent tracks on the debut. This album is certainly worth checking for those who found something to enjoy on Bonny Light Horseman, and even for those who simply desire a mellow folky listen, but don’t expect anything earth-shattering. Chalk it up as another pretty good effort from a supergroup.



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user ratings (11)
3.2
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
October 11th 2022


6035 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Album is good with some great moments, but kinda disappointing nonetheless

DoofDoof
October 11th 2022


15477 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm not even sure this is better than the debut tbh

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
October 11th 2022


6035 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

I'd say it's a bit worse (the first is a 3.5 for me, on the basis of the very good highlights), but opinions will probably vary.

Slex
October 11th 2022


16801 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

There is just NO emotional investment in these songs from any of the songwriters and that combined with them banking so hard on being such "authentic" folk makes it all come off as so manufactured lol. Legit sophisticated Mumford and Sons imo

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
October 11th 2022


6035 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

@Slex, that seems a little harsh for me, I do get some emotion for at least the highlights. I do agree that a lot of this is pretty bland though, to each their own!

Slex
October 11th 2022


16801 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

It all just comes off as so perfunctory to me that it's possible I was the one not connecting but I dunno, both albums from this group sound like a paycheck to me

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
October 11th 2022


6035 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Yeah, it's also possible I'm being a little easy on this, as I tend to enjoy this type of folk and I'm also a sucker for the Fruit Bats' singer's voice.



On the flip side, the general reception for both of these albums seems to be significantly more positive than on Sputnik, so there's a lot of disagreement.

Slex
October 11th 2022


16801 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Yeah I think we are finding the middle ground now haha, as I am not usually a fan of this kind of bare bones folk without a strong emotional attachment on my end



And also yeah, people on my Facebook are crazy for this band

Lucman
October 11th 2022


5537 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Comrade Sweetheart is one of the best country songs I've heard all year. I think this is a beautiful album.

DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
October 12th 2022


5099 Comments


First was abject mediocrity, doesn't sound like this is any better

DoofDoof
October 12th 2022


15477 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

They're a bit mediocre...but it's my type of mediocre whoop



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