This is All That Glitters is Gold, a recurring piece about some of my favorite artists, albums, tracks, and live shows. Here I will write about the music I love, most of which inspired me to start Alt Revue in the first place. I'm excited to highlight this music and talk about how it has impacted me. I hope you enjoy getting a glimpse into some of my favorites!
Today I am talking about one of my favorite albums and acoustic performances of all time, Band of Horses Acoustic at the Ryman. The album is a virtual acoustic version of some of the band's most well known songs. With Acoustic at the Ryman, Band of Horses showed their chops not only as a live band, but also their ability to compose their originals into acoustic melodies. The ending result is harrowing and beautiful, especially with the inclusion of songs like "Detlef Schrempf", "No One's Gonna Love You", and "The Funeral". The piano composition of "Detlef Schrempf" in the acoustic form is complex, it's sophisticated, and its perfect. When combined with Ben Bridwell's vocals it's downright breathtaking.
"No One's Gonna Love You", perhaps the band's best known song, is stripped down here. It's just Bridwell and his guitar. The audience is captivated and silent. His vocals echo off the cavernous walls of The Ryman, giving his vocals a sort of homemade reverb. In this particular version, Bridwell does a run at the end of the lyric"Never want to hear you say" that is masterfully executed, showing the vocal strength of Band of Horses' front man.
Vocal harmonies are a strength of this album. There is perhaps no better song where they are on display than on "Factory". The entire band sings the song together, while piano plays to hold the melody down. Vocally the band bounces off one another, at times singing in unison, at other times shifting octaves. It's such a well executed piece of vocal work with multiple singers.
There are songs where the band takes a more alt-country feel with their compositions. Namely "Everything's Gonna Be Undone", "Older", and "A Song for You" (a Gram Parsons cover). The finest of these is "A Song for You" a fantastic cover that I actually think may supersede the original. Having had the chance to see Band of Horses live and see them play this song live, they do it so well, I normally never take this position, it's just hard not to and I like Gram Parsons!
Perhaps the most underrated song on this album is "Wicked Gil". The band's performance of this track is simply superb, especially on the choruses. The prolonging of the lines "I'm yours, I'm yours" is especially great as it resonates off the walls of The Ryman, among the audience. This is again a stripped down version from the original, but the powerful vocals are what make it so great.
Band of Horses Acoustic at the Ryman is such a solid album because it's like a greatest hits, an acoustic album, and a live album all rolled into one. Excitingly, it was just reissued on vinyl, so for those of you looking to get a copy, they are definitely out there. It's one that I currently don't have, but that is on my treasure hunt list. I have listened to the album so many times on Spotify, I can only imagine how great it sounds on vinyl. If you haven't checked it out before, I have included the album link from Band of Horses official YouTube account below, so check it out!