Mercurial Americana troubadour Gill Landry follows 2015's excellent eponymous effort with Love Rides a Dark Horse, a brooding nine-song set that, on the surface at least, is as down and out as anything he's released so far. Largely written during a lengthy solo tour in the aftermath of a failed relationship, Dark Horse has all the hallmarks of a breakup album, yet the singer also describes it as a "map out of the darkness." A lifelong rambler with a history of busking around the country, Landry's involvement as a member of Old Crow Medicine Show brought him to a handful of roots music zeniths, including induction into the Grand Ole Opry and a Grammy Award. Still, he retained his lone-wolf image during his tenure with the band, releasing solo albums that mixed elements of Dylanesque folk balladry with Tom Waits' grizzled darkness and Leonard Cohen's solitary poeticism. The more straightforward tone of Landry's previous outing continues here, to a degree, as he sifts through the emotional wreckage on the bittersweet "Broken Hearts & Things We'll Never Know" and the lyrically haunted yet soaring centerpiece, "The One Who Won the War." Given the nature of the subject matter, the tempos are slow and the tone is expectedly maudlin, but it's a bailiwick Landry always felt comfortable in, and his weary baritone is as soothing as it is desolate. Having previously shed some of the lonesome drifter persona that marked his earlier work, he returns to the condition from a more honest and authentic place, turning in a dark gem.
Love Rides a Dark Horse Review
by Timothy Monger