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Black Horse Riders is the latest collaboration between singer and multi-instrumentalist Roland Hasbrouck — can’t get more local than that — and guitarist and co-writer Tim Curtis-Verderosa. The pair previously co-fronted the popular earthy rock group Verdes, a band that not only was local but was largely about the local, the deus loci, via Hasbrouck’s historically-aware, layered and multi-racial poetry of place. On their eponymous five-song EP, Black Horse Riders craft a dark, luminous folk rock that manages to feel epic, narrative and broad despite its modest length. Themes of damnation and redemption abound, spiritual yearning in the myth-fired opener “There’s a Place,” and emotional and physical yearning in one of the EP’s real standouts, the rhapsodic lost-love rocker “Static Free.”
The reference points here, if you require them, are classic and none too arcane — the folk- and country-rock of early Neil Young sometimes crossing into a Mick Taylor-era Stones swagger; the beautiful loser crooning of a Gram Parsons partaking occasionally of the oracular and poetic authority of a Leonard Cohen. Recorded with Kevin McMahon at New Paltz’ Marcata Studio, where many a dense and turbulent rock record has been tracked, Black Horse Riders is a haunted, rural mood piece with a hopeful finish. Woody and reverberant, these mixes privilege Hasbrouck’s distinctive tenor, a plaintive, quavering, and swooping thing that thrives on all that air space and the roomy separation of elements.
Black Horse Riders can certainly be called ambient Americana with an implicit sense of historical moment
John Burdick Hudson Valley Almanac Weekly 10/14