Band Of Horses - Acoustic At The Ryman
Acoustic at the Ryman comes at a difficult time for fans of these formerly righteous Seattle folk rockers. Band of Horses' debut Everything All The Time, released in 2006 remains a back-to-back classic, a triumph with few worthy rivals in the sometimes hokey ground of contemporary folk. Unfortunately, their subsequent efforts have seen diminishing returns, with each release perishing under the band's own stubborn, grandiose vision.
BoH remain a 'good' band but not a great one, an unfortunate realisation which this 10-track live record quietly articulates. Recorded in Nashville's illustrious Ryman Auditorium, the venue's country and folk ancestry makes for a perfect fit in which to try and capture their live dominance. The result is satisfying but flaccid, and while acoustic shows come with certain expectations, this fails to demonstrate a band who, only half a decade ago, would leave a sold out hall of sweaty teenagers in an hypnotic frenzy over a song about a funeral.
The obvious highlights come from quaint performances of 'Wicked Gil', 'Marry Song', 'Detlef Schrempf' and the ever heartbreaking 'No One's Gonna Love You', again all from the two initial studio albums. Ben Bridwell's cute cry of 'Thanks!' at the end of each track is a reminder of earnest beginnings, while his lyrical ability remains evident in an acoustic setting. Unfortunately, the record does not leave without highlighting recent inadequacies. 'Factory' is as dire as ever, only made worse without the studio recording's ridiculous - yet charming - ELO-esque string backing.
With support slots for the likes of Pearl Jam and Kings of Leon now under the belt, Acoustic at the Ryman plays as a stop-gap before the next stage of their career, but is also a reminder of what a great band Band Of Horses could be, but only if they re-find their initial muse.