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Wild Ponies

Things That Used to Shine – 2013 (Ditch Dog)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Wild Ponies

It's a bold musician who can declare "I'm not sure if I believe in God/But I guess He believes in me." That line, from the song Revival Wasteland, off Wild Ponies' debut "Things That Used To Shine," more or less sums up the tattered sentiments in full display throughout. Wild Ponies mainstays Doug and Telisha Williams, who previously performed and recorded as a duo, bring both an air of authenticity and a weathered and weary perspective to this impressive project, a sense that as far as veteran troubadours go, they've already arrived.

With opening track Make You Mine, Telisha Williams establishes their uncompromising attitude. Whereas most songs of courtship and desire would do so in a somewhat genteel manner, Telisha makes the proposition that much more of a demand. "I don't want to meet your family, I don't want to meet your friends/I just want you to hold yourself next to me," she hisses over a dark, rumbling instrumental underbelly, while turning what would otherwise seem like a seductive come-on into something akin to an offer would dare not refuse. While the rest of the set isn't nearly as intimidating, songs like Trigger and Trouble Looks Good On You, - the latter of which sounds like an old Dolly Parton and Porter Waggoner duet - contain more than their fair share of sass.

Indeed, despite the sometimes edgy attitude, Wild Ponies also bear a certain old school sensibility. A number of mournful ballads betray the rugged resignation that's always been optimal when it comes to shedding tears in the beer, and their desire to hew to that traditional template makes that music all the more engaging. Let's hope these Wild Ponies continue to run free.