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Homey Intimacy, Soaked in Strings

Hardwood Pews

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Thursday's Pick

  • Song: "Hardwood Pews"
  • Artist: Horse Feathers
  • CD: Words Are Dead
  • Genre: Folk-Pop

Horse Feathers' music recalls the rustic delicacy of Iron and Wine. hide caption

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A virtually unknown duo from Portland, Oregon, Horse Feathers' Justin Ringle and Peter Broderick have crafted one of the year's most accomplished and stirring debuts in Words Are Dead. Often recalling the rustic delicacy of Iron and Wine — if it were soaked in strings and robbed of some of its stark clarity — Horse Feathers' music radiates homey intimacy, as Broderick fleshes out Ringle's voice and guitar with all manner of warmly unamplified instrumentation.

Though the album functions most effectively as a lovely 35-minute whole, Words Are Dead opens in particularly winsome and affecting fashion, with "Hardwood Pews" matching subtly infectious melodies with Ringle's hauntingly obtuse lines about beauty and disappointment. It's unclear what he's singing about much of the time: Lines like "She's tricked, she was trapped / her body was lacking / white and red / those hues lost in bed" aren't always easy to parse. But when he closes with a chilling instruction — "Take your beauty to your grave" — the effect, when measured along with the surrounding sweet sounds, is oddly calming.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Words Are Dead
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