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Gill Landry

Love Rides a Dark Horse – 2017 (ATO)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Gill Landry

Gill Landry certainly has matters that are weighing heavy on his mind. An ex-member of Old Crow Medicine Show, he's a multi-faceted musician clearly concerned with matters of the heart, although his dire delivery suggests things aren't going especially well. There's a sense of low cast desperation engulfing these songs overall, a feeling that becomes unerringly apparent in Landry's sonorous delivery, the slow sprawl of his melodies and the riveting tones summoned through cold meditative deliberation. Imagine Johnny Cash, Tom Waits and Nick Cave sharing their sad stories over a bonfire, and you get some idea of the troubled task that Landry's taken on.

Suffice it to say "Love Rides a Dark Horse" is all the title implies, a set of songs fraught with hard luck happenstance and tempered by love that's idealized, but imagined. "I appreciate the enthusiasm, but don't fall in love just yet," Landry pleads on the laconic "The Only Game In Town," a cautionary tale echoed as the knife's dug in deeper on "Scripted Love." "Through the bright and bitter tears. No One will ever be enough, For your scripted love," he growls, barely containing his anger. These are hard lessons learned, but Landry's clearly intent on sparing nothing when it comes to imparting either wisdom or warning. It's a tact that's underscored most of his efforts to date, one that first took hold on his earlier "Piety & Desire" and from then on, became evident ever since.

Ultimately, "Love Rides a Dark Horse" unfolds as a tangled series of frayed encounters, each a distinct yet nuanced narrative that deals with the hazards of romance and its timeless truths. Relationships are never well defined, and despite any effort to cut to the heart, too many pitfalls lie along the way. Landry offers little comfort in that regard except to say, we're all in this together, even if some of us end up waylaid along the way.