Amy Speace with The Orphan Brigade
THERE USED TO BE HORSES HERE
Windbone Records/Proper Records
A Glorious Set of Deeply Personal and Emotional Songs To Touch A Listener’s Heart
There was something of a mix up with this review as 2/3 of our reviewing team all thought the others were writing it ……. but I win; albeit a few days late.
Part of the problem was that we are all Amy Speace and The Orphan Brigade fans ….. so have spent too much time enjoying this album; rather than dissecting each song for imperfections (#joke).
While not really a ‘concept album’ in any real shape or form; there’s a winsome felling of looking back that clings to most every story here; starting with Down The Trail; with it’s opening verse:
“Driving with the top down
Baby blue Pontiac
Ten feet off the ground
My brother and me in the back
Heading on down the trail.”
Amy’s voice is never short of delightful; even if the song itself is slightly unsettling …….. there’s certainly something going to happen before the ending; but what? Only time will tell and yes; there are as many twists and turns in the song as there are on the journey.
This is followed by the title track; There Used to be Horses Here; and yet again this is a glorious sepia tinged story of an adult returning to their childhood home to find that everything has changed; probably for the better; but trampling on our memories at the same time.
Two songs in and even a very casual listener will have put the newspaper down and will be settling in for the long haul.
Although Amy has had some help from the Orphan Brigade in the writing of these songs; and everything gets wrapped up neatly with a Warren Zevon song at the end; but everything here is so patently from Amy Speace’s heart and indeed; Soul; with the songs flowing from her in a four month period between her son’s first birthday and her Father’s untimely death four months later.
All of which makes for a ‘aching Beauty’ that comes across in the depth of Father’s Day and Grief is a Lonely Land; which if taken out of context could easily be a song to accompany a New Programmes look back at the Corona Virus years at the end of 2021.
While obviously sad from start to finish; there’s also a golden glimmer of hope that binds Ms. Speace’s words and phrasing too, in River Rise, One Year and the majestic Mother is a Country; all of which will benefit from a good stereo and set of speakers to hear ever prescient note and minor flourish from the musicians so ably supporting the singer.
As I said earlier; the album closes with a Warren Zevon song; Don’t Let Us Get Sick; a song I wasn’t previously aux fait with but seems almost perfect to close this collection and when the harmonies glide in; I can easily imagine the lights being turned on in a concert hall and absolutely everyone joining in with the chorus!
There is some light to counteract the shade that is all prevailing; but that’s not to say Hallelujah Train is a Pop Song; far from it ….. but it’s now a contender for a place in my own funeral service.
Then there is Shotgun Hearts.
What a song!
I’m a fan of all the constituent parts of Amy Speace with the Orphan Brigade (Ben Glover, Neilson Hubbard and Josh Britt) but I don’t believe any have written a song so imaginative and powerful on any of their previous albums ……. it’s a highlight of all of their careers and easily my Favourite Song here; as I said when I played it on my Radio Show a month ago ……. it’s not just a showstopper; but a heart stopper too ….. 10/10.
Sadly when you get to my age, death of family and friends is all too common; especially so in this last couple of years; but thankfully; instead of wallowing in her grief at the death of her Father, Amy Speace has used this to bring out a glorious set of deeply personal emotions that will touch many listeners hearts too in a way that they themselves could never articulate; and for that they can only thank Amy Speace.
Released April 30th 2021
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