Me, pass up an album titled Cartoon Moon? Not a chance! Of course, the cover helped, a beautiful illustration of a tree over the moon, and the name (Dead Horses) curious. I don’t know what I expected, maybe another one of those “Americana” or “Alt” bands we hear so much from these days. Another decent band with a banjo thrown in for good measure and maybe even a fiddle or mandolin in places. If it wasn’t for Sarah Vos, that might be what it is (but it’s not).
Don’t get me wrong. Vos is not everything here but she is the source of voice and song. The voice, a cross between male alto and female tenor which could be a plus or a minus. In this case, it is huge plus and I chalk it up to Vos’s exceptional songwriting. She has this uncanny way to turn a standard chord progression into something fresh and beautiful. It is simple, really. Just turn right or left at the exact moment to make a good song better. She does it consistently and with deftness. One chord and a verse or chorus becomes music magic.
Credit the lyrics too. No cringe-worthy moments here— no rhyming you and blue or fool and cool. Want to know when it is done right? When you don’t even notice. While this was supposed to be a needledrop, I circled the field for a second listen, the second time just for the lyrics. Either Vos has a real touch when it comes to matching the right words to the music or she puts in yeoman’s work getting them just right.
I checked out a few reviews of their earlier work. Evidently they have changed a bit for Cartoon Moon. Having heard only this album, perhaps it warrants me doing some research. In fact, I believe it does. After all, the fun is in the journey.
And the journey begins…