Posted by: Ryan Allen on July 31, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Horse Feathers, House With No Home (Kill Rock Stars, 2008)

MP3: “Working Poor ”

Recently, Canadian folk acts such as Great Lakes Swimmers, Sunparlour Players, and the Hidden Cameras have gained a fairly decent amount of success by combining traditional folk music with a contemporary sound. You would figure that Portland, Oregon is close enough to the Land of the Free (health care, that is) that a band would be able to gain access to that formula simply through osmosis. Not the case with Horse Feathers. While too symphonic to be considered bluegrass, and too easy-listening to be folk, House With No Home still tries its hardest to worm its way in there somewhere. The follow-up to 2006′s Words Are Dead (which somehow managed to make it onto NPR’s Top 10 Albums of 2006), the album fails to step forward from the sleepytime sound that was initially introduced by the band. Lead vocalist Justin Ringle may have a voice of pure gold (imagine Iron & Wine’s Samuel Beam minus the creepy fucking beard), and Peter Broderick seems to be very talented on the banjo and violin (“Working Poor” is a shining example) and can play one mean cello (has that ever been said in the history of music?), but by the time it’s all put together, not a single track on the album reaches any sort of climax. While fans of Starbucks, Volkswagen, and Gary Jules may systematically fall in love with the album at first listen, it leaves the rest of the population wanting. — Adam O’Connor

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