October 7, 2010

Test Spins: Tired Pony

Print More

Gary Lightbody isn’t your typical country singer. In fact, he isn’t really a country singer at all. Born in Bangor, Northern Ireland, Lightbody is best known as the lead singer of Snow Patrol. But, as that band was finishing up their world tour in winter of 2009, Lightbody began sketching ideas in his notebook for a country project that he described as a “twisted love letter to the States.”

Tired Pony isn’t, however, an alias for Lightbody, but rather a super group that resulted from his country tinged sessions.

R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey, Belle & Sebastian drummer Richard Colburn, former Snow Patrol member Iain Archer and his wife Miriam Kaufmann and Snow Patrol guitar tech Troy Stewart all contributed to the album, as did legendary producer Jacknife Lee. Though, defining each of their roles is difficult. Says Lightbody, “Nobody really stuck to one instrument, so you can’t say, ‘he’s the lead guitarist’ because he played bass and keyboards as well.”

The resulting album is a fascinating collection of songs, with only one or two missteps. Opening number, “Northwestern Skies” doesn’t stray too much from the work Lightbody’s been doing with Snow Patrol lyrically, but sonically there are several additional layers that create a more desolate atmosphere.

Contrastingly, “Point Me at Lost Islands” has all the trappings of an indie country song. Yet, it manages to maintain the epic feel of Lightbody’s previous work. The same goes for “Held in the Arms of Your Words,” a gorgeous ballad featuring M. Ward and lyrics like “In this light you are framed classically/Just a painting that hangs in my head.”

Other highlights include, a guest spot from Zooey Deschanel on the devastatingly wonderful “Get on the Road,” a vocal contribution from The Editors’ Tom Smith on “The Good Book,” and “I Am A Landslide,” which highlights Archer’s earnest voice. The album’s closing track, “Pieces,” is a messy avant-garde number that is sure to leave listeners yearning for more.


Original Author: Wesley Ambrecht