The Horse's Ha: Of The Cathmawr Yards

By: Dennis Cook

The shaking cry of a slide flowing over guitar strings ushers in somber male-female vocals, emotions further stoked by contemplative cello. That the song in question, "Plumb," begins with a talking woodcut and ends ominously, "They keep their distance til the clocks struck dumb for each new search has depth to plumb," fast cements the appealing strangeness and conscious inquiry of The Horse's Ha, a collaboration with Janet Beveridge Bean (Freakwater, Eleventh Dream Day) and James Elkington (The Zincs), who both break new ground here, tapping hitherto unknown ache and effervescence. Hush is the general rule within these Yards (released June 9 on Hidden Agenda), a contemporized gloss on what The Platters, Julie London and other '50s/'60s notables wrought when quiet things could still be pop. There's no radio station aside from the ones in our iPods that's likely to grab onto this gem, which shifts and changes color as you move it in the fading light. This is ideal listening for out-of-bounds, pre-dawn hours where you've played Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?" a few times and want some kindred spirit with new bone-weary observations on heart and humanity to help you finish off the bottle's dregs.

[Published on: 7/2/09]

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