With their second full-length album House With No Home, Horse Feathers delivers a piece of subtle Americana that is as beautiful as it is unnerving and as soothing as it is depressing. Justin Ringle’s vocals are hushed, as if he is performing alone in his bedroom, trying not to disturb anyone. These hushed tones resonate in songs about alienation, sorrow and confusion (“Are you true to me?/Are these vows that we say profane?”). Such is the case in the opening track, “Curs in the Weeds,” about a father pleading for his lost son to return, even promising that for once “I’ll call off the dogs if you call off your guard.”
Each track has a minimalist arrangement, with no note played that does not have a purpose. Often silence stands out as the most haunting of sounds, such as in “Helen,” where Ringle’s whispered vocals often break up and disappear before the entire word can be recognized. Heather Broderick’s cello and violin give the songs their most powerful moments, often coming to the forefront while the guitar and vocals drift behind. In an album this sparse, it is moments like that, where a well-placed cello note grabs you, where the true beauty of the music is realized.