The Ghost Of The Mountain by Tired Pony

The Ghost Of The Mountain by Tired Pony

 

When Gary Lightbody set up Tired Pony in ’09, it was a straightforward means to avoid releasing a country album through an outlet that would leave the alternative-dominated Snow Patrol crowd scratching heads in confusion. But the project wasn’t as radical of a departure as most expected, since The Place We Ran From actually ended up more in Irish-Americana territory than country, echoing a half-forgotten shadow of The Reindeer Section, the early-2000s supergroup that Lightbody formed after a drunken night out with his mates.

 

I didn’t think that Pony was going to be a short-term kind of deal, but the disbandment of R.E.M. ensured that the second effort wouldn’t be too far out. Lightbody, ever the social animal (even if his withdrawn/lonely/sulking lyrics attempts to portray the opposite), was quick to get the group together after Snow Patrol wrapped up the Fallen Empires tour on New Year’s Eve.

 

TRACKLIST:
#1. I Don’t Want You As A Ghost 4:02
#2. I’m Begging You Not To Go 3:20
#3. Blood 4:01
#4. The Creak In The Floorboards 4:01
#5. All Things All At Once 3:41
#6. Wreckage and Bone 4:00
#7. The Beginning Of The End 4:39
#8. Carve Our Names 3:38
#9. Ravens and Wolves 4:07
#10. Punishment 4:22
#11. The Ghost Of The Mountain 3:34
#12. Your Way Is The Way Home 4:16

 

PERSONNEL:
Gary Lightbody: Vocals, Guitar
Peter Buck: Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo
Richard Colburn: Drums, Percussion
Iain Archer: Vocals, Guitar
Garret “Jacknife” Lee: Keyboard, Organ, Piano
Scott McCaughey: Guitar, Keyboard, Vocals
Troy Stewart: Bass, Vocals

 

PRODUCER:
Garret “Jacknife” Lee
Ian Archer

 

DATE OF RELEASE:
19th August, 2013

 

SINGLES:
All Things At Once

 

The Ghost Of The Mountain sticks with the core of the alt-folk template the boys established with their debut, but is slightly more adventurous and confident. Most of it isn’t actually all that removed from Fallen Empires or Son Of Evil Reindeer, but backing harmonies and bubbling retro-electronica spice it up compared to the slower and quieter predecessors.

 

Written and recorded astonishingly quickly by today’s standards, Mountain bleeds the organic sensibilities, limited takes, and simplified recording techniques that Lightbody & co. have adopted for the past few years. Thanks to this, the record flows as effortlessly as a clear spring on a hot summer day, each track blending naturally into the other. The flip side is that consistent quality and serious depth is compromised, and only about an EP’s worth of memorable tracks are included. Maybe that’s the inherent drawback of a part-timer band.

 

I Don’t Want You As A Ghost is a fresh take on the neglected spouse from the husband’s perspective, while Blood is solid songwriting from a guy not known for tapping into emotions through unsavory imagery. Both seem to be making a case for the increased versatility and confidence with which these guys are making music, though it would be very difficult to claim that any of the tracks have escaped the Snow Patrol orbit and assumed their own identity. Put another way, you wouldn’t be able to distinguish which band wrote the album if the artist field was depopulated.

 

The Creak In The Floorboards (a title that nobody aside from Lightbody could have come up with) is definitely worth checking out, mainly because it is one of the few well-done efforts in a sea of half-baked and unsubstantial compositions. Also, the lead single All Things All At Once – which is the closest Tired Pony get to country here – is one of those rare gems that emerges out of the ether in a half-conscious impulsive songwriting session at 4 am.

 

They’ve also limited the number of big-ticket singers this time around, leaving the majority of the backing and harmonizing work to relative newcomers (I’m Begging You Not To Go, Carve Our Names). But don’t let the lack of headlining vocalists turn you off: Zooey Deschanel may have better things to do, but her replacement coterie of Minnie Driver, Bronagh Gallagher and Kim Topper are just as good. And while you won’t find me celebrating the absence of the captivating Tom Smith, lineup regular Iain Archer’s vocal cameo on the fuzzy pop track The Beginning Of The End is not to be sneered at. Who knows, perhaps this inward focus will help the band develop an identity.

 

 

 

 

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