Tired Pony

The Ghost of the Mountain

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The second long-player from Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody's alt-country project Tired Pony, Ghost of the Mountain goes a little light on the country, despite the pastoral production and the comforting presence of some weepy, mountainous pedal steel. Closer in timbre and texture to some of his meal ticket band's less meaty offerings, the 12-track collection nearly gets by on warmth alone. Lightbody's expressive yet even-tempered voice is the perfect match for unassuming sunset anthems like the evocative "All Things All at Once," the gently anthemic, group vocal-led "Blood," and the softly addled, keyboard-heavy opener "I Don’t Want You as a Ghost." Starker numbers like the gentle, fingerpicked "Wreckage and Bone" and stoic closer "Your Way Is the Way Home" successfully marry the open road Americana that so obviously compels him to the overcast English folk-rock of artists like Gravenhurst, Mark Knopfler, and even Richard Hawley (minus all the reverb), resulting in something that feels a little like Coldplay unplugged. That said, Snow Patrol fans will find much to love here, as Lightbody has crafted a record that sounds enough like 2011's Fallen Empires that it feels like a twang-kissed companion piece rather than an entirely new project, and while his imagery-laden, generally safe distillation of American roots rock leans harder on the AOR/soft rock side of the railroad tracks, it's a train that is worth boarding for a stop or two, if only to admire the lovely view.

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