Music lovers seeking ways to keep the upcoming winter doldrums away, Snow Patrol fans, or anyone already thinking “holiday gift list” need to put Tired Pony’s “The Ghost of the Mountain” release on their list of new music to check out.

Formed by Snow Patrol’s frontman Gary Lightbody in 2009, Tired Pony recorded their first album in Portland in 2010. Lightbody said he had long wanted to make a “country album,” but their music is better described as alternative folk-rock, or at times, just plain alt-rock.

TiredPony2Out just this month in the U.S., their new release was recorded in southern California’s Topanga Canyon. It opens with the pensive, plaintive “I Don’t Want You As A Ghost.”  If you like the sound of a full band behind a singer as noteworthy as Lightbody, you’ll love “Ghost of the Mountain.” For starters the opening track includes: lead guitar, organ, moog, 12-string electric guitar, lap steel, drums and percussion. It’s great musicianship supplied by seven veteran musicians, all quite sweetly mixed and engineered for our listening pleasure.

“I Don’t Want You As A Ghost” is followed by the colorful, lighthearted lover’s lamentation “I’m Begging You Not to Go,” a fun track you’ll want to snuggle up with this winter. A lovely background chorus coupled with tasteful lap steel touches by ace musician Mr. Iain Archer (co-writer of a boatload of tracks on Jake Bugg’s debut) round things out admirably.

“Blood” starts off with a deep and soulful chorus, then amps into rock n’ roll mode as it recounts rough waters in a relationship. As with “The Creak in the Floorboards,” “Blood” is reminiscent of Snow Patrol’s atmospheric and praiseworthy 2006 “Eyes Open” release.

Northern Irish musician and lead vocalist for Snowplay, Gary Lightbody once described Tired Pony’s first release by saying: “there’s a kind of haphazard tenderness to the record that I really enjoyed.” That’s probably a pretty spot-on description of “Ghost of the Mountain” as well – it’s a very open, tender-hearted recording that beckons us to listen just one more time.

Tired Pony are: Lightbody, vocals, guitar; Richard Colburn (formerly in Snow Patrol) drums; Iain Archer (singer-songwriter and Jake Bugg collaborator), guitar; Jacknife Lee, keyboards, guitar, producer; Peter Buck (from REM) guitar; Scott McCaughey, guitar, keyboards, vocals; and Troy Stewart, guitar, lap steel, vocals.

While everything on Tired Pony’s second release is 4-to-5 star stuff and merits listening, highest honors go to the beautifully melancholic hit single “All Things All At Once,” a song FM-Radio listeners are already enjoying. It’s a great arrangement, showcasing Lightbody’s vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboards and Archer’s pedal steel opposite a haunting chorus that creates just the right amount of tension.

All Things All At Once
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNnet9hRri4

“Wreckage and Bone,” a light melody with a magical feel, great percussion and some nice reverb, has a lot of moving parts to it that work together well. There’s a bit of timeless mystery here, too, that probably only Lightbody could illuminate. Lyric sample: “Let me live here with you years ago / We can count the days from then to now.” Indeed.

Wreckage and Bone
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmF7pLJR3yE

If you’re thinking this release isn’t a Snow Patrol album, you’re right, but rock n’ roller’s will particularly love “The Beginning of the End” and the party-vibe of “Punishment” – especially its rollicking “we-reached-the-end-of-our-golden-days-at-last” chorus.

The new album closes out on the reflective “Your Way is the Way Home,” a sparse arrangement with pedal steel and keyboards and Lightbody’s wistful vocals.

Expert musicianship, interesting songs, and, on several tracks, harmony vocals supplied by Minnie Driver, Bronagh Gallagher and Kim Topper that compliment Lightbody’s vocals sweetly. All-in-all, there’s much to appreciate about Tired Pony’s “Ghost of the Mountain.”

There’s a fun and informative 50-minute interview with the band filmed earlier this month at Apple’s SoHo, New York City store to be found online at YouTube.

You can find their music on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-ghost-of-the-mountain/id696202894  and Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Tired-Pony/e/B003P6GIHA .
Or, check out their website, at: http://www.tiredpony.com/

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