Bonny Light Horseman
Keep Me on Your Mind/See You Free


5.0
classic

Review

by doofy USER (28 Reviews)
June 10th, 2024 | 70 replies


Release Date: 06/07/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Bonny Light Horseman: KILL or KEEP?

Some bands you find yourself really rooting for, especially when it feels like all the ingredients are there already, just waiting to click. This feeling is stronger still when you imagine the clock is ticking, and a band of unheralded veterans will always appeal to that underdog narrative. ‘Supergroup’ (it’s a stretch) Bonny Light Horseman are a case in point, though I suppose you could argue Anais Mitchell has already released a definitive work in 2010’s ‘Hadestown’; that being as it may, that's still going back fourteen years so surely there's a need for her to deliver something even closer to an unapologetic monster hit. Well, through channelling peak ‘70s era Fleetwood Mac, the self titled Fleet Foxes debut, and recent Big Thief, BLH have done just that - unleashed a double album of as close to ‘all killer, no filler’ as would seem humanly possible.

First impressions were positive but having got to know the band’s two previous efforts it felt like I’d been programmed to expect some padding in the track-list and to hunt for the nuggets. In truth only four or five of the eighteen (disregarding the two short interludes) songs included on this double set grabbed me on the first spin; the pre release singles were strong but ‘Old Dutch’ especially stood out for having a widescreen and just plain beefier sound to usual, and then later you had the catchy ‘The Clover’ and the supreme alt country of ‘Tumblin Down’. That was enough to at least start thinking this might be their most fruitful work so far but beyond that it still felt mostly like business as usual, just with a degree more polish.

Subsequent listens were revelatory; the ballad miniatures ‘I Wanna Be Where You Are’ and ‘Your Arms (All the Time)’ were perfect vehicles for Mitchell’s country ‘squeak’; ‘Singing to the Mandolin’ and ‘Waiting and Waiting’ expert pop rock with some additional Fleet Foxes flavours; while ‘Over the Pass’ and the expansive closer ‘See You Free’ let those guitars sing, becoming anthems in a way previous BLH songs failed to quite manage. Was there still some filler to navigate? Well, the bright barroom folk of ‘Hare and Hounds’ doesn’t feel like an essential inclusion and it’s followed by ‘Rock the Cradle’, a simplistic folk lullaby that is maybe the only song that truly falls into ‘overly twee’ territory. Beyond that ‘Don’t Know Why You Move Me’ is a little bit of a pace killer, a plodder, though still a composition with some merit nonetheless.

So an eighteen song double album where the biggest weakness is three or four tunes drop to merely ‘quite good’ level must be something close to a miracle of consistency right? That’s how it’s landing for me, a bumper set of by turns soul stirring and poignant cuts that prove faith in this trio of effectively ‘musical journeymen’ was warranted. There’s something life affirming in that.



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user ratings (17)
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
DoofDoof
June 10th 2024


15235 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Kill kill kill

theBoneyKing
June 10th 2024


24512 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice one Doof, I’m excited to dig into this more.

DoofDoof
June 10th 2024


15235 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hope you have a breakthrough with it, it's just such a purely enjoyable listen I'm finding.



If you're struggling then I've already done an edited down tracklist for a 50 minute listen:



1. Keep Me On Your Mind

2. Lover Take It Easy

3. I Know You Know

4. Old Dutch

5. When I Was Younger

6. Waiting and Waiting

7. Singing to the Mandolin

8. The Clover

9. Speak to Me Muse

10. Tumblin Down

11. I Wanna Be Where You Are

12. Over the Pass

13. Your Arms

14. See You Free



That's a really really non stop quality listen for me.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2024


5973 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice read Doof!



I need to spend some time with this - only given it one spin so far, but it seemed to have greater depth than usual for this band. For reference, I've liked their previous two albums, but they tend to have five star songs intermixed with a fair amount of mediocre-to-good tunes.

DoofDoof
June 10th 2024


15235 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks sunny - I'm with you in your assessment of the band's output before this one, I just feel this is super consistent with the expected five star songs still in the mix too.

Sowing
Moderator
June 10th 2024


43997 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review. I've been meaning to check this out but haven't yet, band was always a "like" but not quite a "love". We'll see if this release changes anything.

theBoneyKing
June 10th 2024


24512 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I can tell this is gonna be a grower for me. Feels like the more straightforward/trad Americana response to the latest Big Thief and Big Red Machine releases.

DoofDoof
June 10th 2024


15235 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yeah this is more trad in a Fleet Foxes debut kind of way

DoofDoof
June 10th 2024


15235 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Sowing - I think it’s one that even if it doesn’t personally connect it’s just so impressive for a double album.



Hopefully it does connect though!

theBoneyKing
June 10th 2024


24512 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hm, not sure I hear the same lush/widescreen atmospheric thing you tend to get with FF, even on the debut.

DoofDoof
June 10th 2024


15235 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It’s not identical, but the three part harmonies pop up and there’s just something ‘rustic n’ full throated n' bright’ about it. Coming from their old stuff I just thought ‘this is more Fleet Foxes now’…it might be me ;P



This album exudes confidence like that FF debut, it vibes with me in a similar way. I actually prefer this though, more personable, less obviously going for the faux rustic thing

Slex
June 10th 2024


16647 Comments


I found their other stuff really cheesy and boring, is this a step up/shake up or is this what they already do done better than before?

DoofDoof
June 10th 2024


15235 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It’s better than before but if you find ‘em cheesy you find ‘em cheesy

Slex
June 10th 2024


16647 Comments


They give me a whiff of elevated Mumford and Sons but I'm gonna try this one out, good review

DoofDoof
June 10th 2024


15235 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

True, they have zero edge but in this case I like that about them.



Mumford I got that very photogenic ‘advertiser’s dream’ feeling whereas this still has an authenticity for me, and you get the feeling these old peeps have toiled away for bloody ages. They have a chemistry and they’ve now worked out this winning style that suits them 100%.



Super pleasant music like this is so hard to make with enough depth and character to not become fodder.





neekafat
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2024


26307 Comments


color me intrigued

Cryptkeeper
June 10th 2024


2146 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

[2]

theBoneyKing
June 10th 2024


24512 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Do I understand right that this started as a sort of trad folk revival project before shifting to original compositions, or did I make that up?

DoofDoof
June 10th 2024


15235 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

you are correct, first album was all reinterpretations of traditional folk songs - as boring as that sounds, the first three songs on the debut are quite a magical run.

theBoneyKing
June 10th 2024


24512 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ah ok, I think that’s part of why I didn’t prioritize checking that out at the time.



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