On Dark Horses

Emma Ruth Rundle

Sargent House, 2018

http://www.emmaruthrundle.com

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/27/2018

Emma Ruth Rundle has never ceased to impress as an artist, but on this fourth solo release, she has outdone herself by a mile. On Dark Horses is an example of a musician at her peak, displaying a level of creativity and artistry that are unparalleled.

Much like Rundle’s previous works, this album is also dark, dominated by heavy music with layered guitars. Rundle’s vocals are fittingly weighty. The mood of the album could not have been more perfectly set than by the thumping funereal drums and the ominous beginning words of the opening number “Fever Dreams:” “Fear, a feeling, is it real? So nostalgic, too, it just puts the dark on you.” True, the somberness on this record is palpable and inescapable.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

However, the key difference between On Dark Horses and any other disc with a similarly heightened level of melancholy is that this album doesn’t feel dismal at all. Its songs have an airy beauty that makes them more psychedelic than depressing.

On Dark Horses has the serenity of a folk band, the atmospheric dynamics of a shoegaze act, and the dramatic profoundness of a prog-metal outfit in its belly. The album essentially has an ethereal feel because of the omnipresent foggy guitars and Rundle’s breezy vocals. But this album has fire that is far from the cold and coy demeanor associated with purveyors of such dreamy music. Finding a potent ally in the charging drums, the guitars on most of the record are shimmering and dense. Even though they sound atmospheric, they are boldly present in the front, much like the style of grunge music.

The music on this disc is intense – and it must be, to do justice to Rundle’s vocals and to be the best vehicle possible to articulate her gripping emotions. Her misty voice is soothing, but there is no mistaking the passion it carries. Whether she is singing pensively (“You Don't Have To Cry”) or belting out a blazing chorus (“Control”), her voice will give you goosebumps. Add to this her folksy twang, and there is nothing more heartfelt than her singing.

Rundle’s music and vocals hold nothing back in this all-powerful record. Yet there isn’t a single moment where its beauty is lost. In fact, the album is as delicate as it is puissant. Music as authentic, stirring, and exceptionally created as this is scarce. So those who make On Dark Horses a part of their music collection are sure to cherish it for a very long time.

Rating: A

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