Brooklyn’s favorite country boys Pale Horse and Rider return with a stunner of a second album. Not to mention a new backing band, a full sound, and a batch of beautiful new songs. On Moody Pike, PHR architect Jon DeRosa invites long time collaborator Marc Gartman (Low, Rivulets) in as a full partner. Add to the equation country boy Gerald Menke (ex-Mercury Rev) on pedal steel guitar, free-jazz wunderkind Mike Pride (Anthony Braxton, Dynamite Club) on drums, and Paul Oldham (Palace/Bonnie Prince Billy/Anomoanon) behind the mixing board. The result is a masterful country sound with the insightfulness of folk and the drive of bar room rock n’ roll.
Pale Horse and Rider are the musical equivalent of the local militia. Their ragtag looks, lack of uniforms, and weathered faces give no indication of their uncanny ability to pierce the heart, perhaps not with bayonets but rather with beautifully turned phrases and lilting melodies. There’s an honesty that surrounds the boys in PHR. They do not become buried in the weight of their lyrics, rather they play through the sad songs with smiles on their faces knowing they’re surrounded by friends and grateful to be. All are such seasoned players that there is a chemistry and intuition among them, adding the subtle edge that transforms bands from “good” to “classic.” DeRosa and Gartman trade off song for song, and the fact that there are two lead singers creates an interesting dynamic, as there is no singular ego driving the band. The lyrical territory is vast, as both songwriters have different styles and strengths. DeRosa is clearly more urban, focusing on the recklessness of youth in Brooklyn, self-destruction and the casual use of drugs, in a voice that neither glorifies nor pities. Marc’s songs tend to be more pastoral, introspective, and masterfully detailed, relating stories so vividly that each song reads like a bedtime story.
Moody Pike is Pale Horse and Rider’s second full-length release, following up 2003’s These Are The New Good Times.
Recommended if you like: Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Graham Parsons, Waylon Jennings.
“DeRosa's not unlike the downcast end of Springsteen. "Jersey Coast Line" could very well be Nebraska's 11th track, as its stately melody and modest hints of romance and nostalgia cast it into a folk music tradition that's always been more felt than heard.” – Rob O’Connor, CMJ
“[DeRosa] commands attention on his songs, each teeming with the kind of charred chagrin that only comes with self-awareness, worldliness, and the familiarity of repeated heartbreak.” – Nikki Tranter, Popmatters
“Marc Gartman is nothing short of a masterful country songwriter, embracing the genre's conventions while not allowing them to dictate the particular nature of his expression.” - Matt Fink, Delusions of Adequacy.
6. In The Cold Of Your Room