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The Horse's Ha


The Horse's Ha, a band named after the Dylan Thomas story about zombies, originally formed as a partnership between two veterans of the Chicago music scene who decided they wanted to work up cover sets to play in expensive wine bars. Thus began the synthesis of James Elkington of The Zincs and Janet Beveridge Bean of Freakwater and Eleventh Dream Day. Before too long, British ex-pat Elkington was penning original tunes for the band and the result is their debut album Of The Cathmawr Yards, a subdued experiment brimming in folk balladry and smart jazzy rhythms. Perfect music, indeed, for all those proliferating wine bars.

Fittingly, the album name also stems from the Thomas story; Cathmawr Yards is the fictional graveyard in Wales. Dripping with melancholia, the duets of Bean and Elkington, who also intricately picks at the acoustic guitar, are framed by mellow cello played by Fred Lonberg-Holm and a subtle, yet sassy, rhythm section filled out by Nick Marci and Charles Rumback. In "Wild's Empty Bedroom," the sultry duo croons of a starless night, a spider’s leg, and an owl chorus for a minor key, downtempo waltz. "The Piss Choir," perhaps the standout track of the album, brings the tempo up for a sophisticated romp played out through catchy syncopated jazz rhythms. The only tune penned by Bean, "Rising Moon," is also a little gem backed by an almost bossa nova beat wed gently to a renaissance ballad.

Much like a good glass of pinot noir, the tunes on The Horse's Ha debut go down easy. Slowing to linger on the complexities just beneath the surface, those seemingly opposing flavors that emerge ever so gently, is what makes the experience so pleasurable. 
• Katy Henriksen

Elkington & Bean

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