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Bonny Light Horseman - Keep Me on Your Mind/See You Free (Album Review)

Wednesday, 12 June 2024 Written by Craig Howieson

Photo: Jay Sansone

Although their merry band has begun to sprawl — incorporating a number of acquaintances and contributors since its inception — the core Bonny Light Horseman trio might be looked upon as masters of heartfelt brevity. With both clocking in at just over 30 minutes, Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson, and Josh Kaufman’s first two records delivered perfectly formed folk songs that felt like they’d been plucked from the air.

And yet on their new album ‘Keep Me on Your Mind/See You Free’ they have opted to lean into this more expansive side more readily, turning in a double LP that runs to 20 songs and a little more than an hour in length. Here thoughts and ideas wander on the wind, fluttering throughout the record only to reappear when you least expect them. It means you have to work harder for the stand out moments, but the rewards at the end of the search are so much greater. 

The complexities of fast-approaching middle age, and its inevitable toll, loom large on the record. Nights out are traded for nappies on When I Was Younger, which opens with grooving piano and bass, and closes with a ripping Kaufman guitar solo. 

As a whole, ‘Keep Me on Your Mind/See You Free’ is a more diverse offering. Embracing heartland rock, Americana and classic pop, it strays further from their folk roots than the band have ever dared before. This may be under the influence of Eric D. Johnson, with tracks such as the impossibly smooth Old Dutch sounding like it could have been plucked from one of his records as Fruit Bats. 

But it doesn’t always feel like a natural fit. The downbeat jazz of the penultimate track Your Arms (All The Time) is a particular outlier, yet for the most part the record is a heady adventure into the hearts and minds of three musicians at the top of their game. Time can be cruel, but it also brings with it a renewed appreciation for things. The love, loss and friendship interrogated on ‘Keep Me on Your Mind/See You Free’ is imperfect and raw, and the music which supports it is a joy to witness.

Bonny Light Horseman Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed November 20 2024 - LONDON Roundhouse
Thu November 21 2024 - BIRMINGHAM XOYO
Fri November 22 2024 - GLASGOW QMU
Sat November 23 2024 - MANCHESTER New Century
Sun November 24 2024 - DUBLIN Vicar Street

Compare & Buy Bonny Light Horseman Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


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