I can’t help but to connect with anything homemade. There’s a certain quality that just can’t be duplicated by machines on an assembly line. When it comes to music, that element doesn’t just enhance the quality of the product, it’ makes it special. It connects the soul of the artist to the heart of the listener. On A Windy Tree, the second LP from Riverhorse, does just that.
Riverhorse is the Chicago-based alternative folk project from Brian Motyll. After writing and recording demos at home for a few years, Motyll released his debut album through Fonoflo Records. Opal was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics and my personal favorite album of 2015 as well. The design of the vinyl release helped it became one of the year’s most sought after LPs soon after it’s release.
With a successful debut and hundreds of live shows under his belt, Motyll definitely had his work cut out for him when it came to his follow-up. Instead of collapsing under the weight of expectation, On A Windy Tree uses it’s predecessor as a springboard, expanding on the Riverhorse mythos.
The same emotional vulnerability that made Opal such an amazing album, is still the prime focus. Motyll and his bandmates, (Scott Ahlgrim and Austin O’Conner) go beyond the confines of the bedroom studio and into the open world of sonic exploration. You can hear their progression thanks to confidence and experience.
Each song boasts a new level of sophistication and emotional clarity. Piano nuance, organic percussion and vocal harmonies enhance the album on every turn. With vocals front and center in the mix, the listener connects with every lyric as if it were conversation. There’s an overwhelming sense of sentimentalism that breaks my heart at the same time gives me hope for tomorrow. It’s really hard to describe the feeling this album evokes with just words. It’s mystical and unpredictable like story time but comforting like a hug from a loved one on a bad day.
On A Windy Tree is a joint release from Fonoflo Records and Jett Plastic Recordings. There’s numerous variants from splatters, to Waxmage exclusives. Plus a very small number of ‘Fono-Fill’ variants, (even one filled with actual beer!) sure to be sought after collector’s items. The album is beautiful in digital form, but hearing it on vinyl is nothing short of breathtaking.
Riverhorse has not only delivered a worthy follow up to 2015’s Opal, but also set a new standard in homemade recordings. It’s an album of hope and ambition from an artists who is beyond his years in creativity and execution. Focused to take you on a spiritual journey but whimzy enough to keep you guessing on each turn. Crafted with heart and soul, On A Windy Tree is destined to be a strong contender for album of the year.
For more information on Riverhorse, please visit the Facebook page