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Wednesday 22 May 2024

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Rolling Golden Holy – Bonny Light Horseman

Oct 30, 2022

Their self-titled debut caused Bonny Light Horseman to make a stir in various corners of the music world. Partly due to the combination of musicians that makes up this illustrious trio, partly due to the use of traditional folk song as their inspiration. Now out and amongst us is ‘Rolling Golden Holy’, the much anticipated follow up to that outstanding debut.

The lineup still has at its core the trio of Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson and Josh Kaufman and is augmented with a rhythm section of bass and drums/percussion from, respectively, Mike Lewis and J.T. Bates. This time out, there is an obvious deepening of their relationship and less reliance on guest musicians. On the back of Mitchell’s successful musical, Hadestown, Johnson brings the pop sensibilities that he feeds into Fruit Bats and Kaufman adds his multi-instrumental and production skills. The net result being a languid style that both relaxes and tickles the senses as best found on ‘Summer Dream’ and ‘Exile’. The high quality shown all around confirms that their debut was no fluke and that this is no one off project.

While the album generally consists of songs fully penned by Bonny Light Horseman, their initial jumping off point of traditional folk gets put to good use again on a couple of tracks. ‘Sweetbread’ being inspired by ‘Rye Whiskey’ and ‘Jack Of Diamonds’ on a standout track that includes some lavish tenor sax from Lewis and delicate banjo from Johnson. With a spectacular intertwined vocal workout from Mitchell and Kaufman driving along ‘Fair Annie’, this is a track rooted in the traditional folk song of the same name.

The album closes with the trio harmonising on ‘Cold Rain and Snow’ in a manner reminiscent of the 1970’s in Laurel Canyon. However, don’t assume that this and its folk leanings mean that the album takes its cue from others. ‘Rolling Golden Holy’ is highly imaginative and finds Bonny Light Horseman firmly establishing their own individual sound. Long may it last.

Steve Henderson

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