After recording Oh Say Little Dogies, Why? (Keep Recordings, 2003) in the desert of New Mexico and the industrial area of Portland, Oregon, Shelley Short left art school in the Pacific Northwest and headed eastward to Chicago for no good reason. Pressed in limited quantity, Oh Say Little Dogies, Why? reached an extensive musical network, building critical momentum along the way.
Seeking a more complex sound for her next album, Captain Wild Horse (Rides the Heart of Tomorrow), Short began writing songs before and immediately after her move across the country. Inspired by her love of snow and rain, her love for people, and even by Marlin Brando’s character “Terry” from the movie On The Waterfront, the album is tinted with the tones of reflection and nostalgia. Short quickly pulled together a band in her new hometown, first recruiting bassist Andy Rader (Can Ky Ree, Gypsee Garage Combo, Pine Top Seven) after seeing him perform at The Hideout in Chicago. Through friend M. Ward she met violinist Tiffany Kowalski (Bright Eyes, M. Ward touring band, Mayday). Recordist and drummer Jamie Carter, soon completed the line up. (Captain Wild Horse was laid to tape at Carter’s studio, Carterco Recording.)
What had modest beginnings with guitar and drums sessions in an attic a snowy walk’s distance from Short’s residence, soon picked up momentum with successful shows in Chicago and the Midwest. And, like a proverbial snowball, the recording project collected guest performances from the likes of Rachel Blumberg (Decemberists, Norfolk and Western, M. Ward touring band) on drums and Cory Gray (Desert City Soundtrack) on trumpet.
Alternately dramatic and humble, dynamic and hushed, Short's ethereal style is full of mystery and portent. Her intimate voice and sincere delivery lend her often dark and personal songs a sense of substance and caprice, gained in some measure from early influences: Ron Davies, Roger Miller, Bob Dylan, Jimmie Rodgers, and Joni Mitchell.