Release Date: Sep 30, 2013
Record label: Caroline
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
The second long-player from Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody's alt-country project Tired Pony, Ghost of the Mountain goes a little light on the country, despite the pastoral production and the comforting presence of some weepy, mountainous pedal steel. Closer in timbre and texture to some of his meal ticket band's less meaty offerings, the 12-track collection nearly gets by on warmth alone. Lightbody's expressive yet even-tempered voice is the perfect match for unassuming sunset anthems like the evocative "All Things All at Once," the gently anthemic, group vocal-led "Blood," and the softly addled, keyboard-heavy opener "I Don’t Want You as a Ghost.
Strange name, Tired Pony, with its suggestion of both youth and weariness. Then again, maybe the band has earned the right to feel weary. There’s a lot of experience in this supergroup of aging-hipster faves. Start with Gary Lightbody (Snow Patrol), Richard Colburn (Belle & Sebastian), and Peter Buck (R.E.M., of course), and finish with Scottish singer Iain Archer, Irish producer Jacknife Lee, unofficial R.E.M.
Many listeners to Tired Pony's pleasant if plodding 2010 debut The Place We Ran From wondered why REM's Peter Buck, Belle and Sebastian's Richard Colburn and particularly Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody would bother making an extracurricular record that sounded like Snow Patrol. Clearly not the band themselves though; much of this follow-up, a collection of earnest, country-tinged rock, comes loaded with the hallmarks of Lightbody's band – plaintive vocals and choruses that lumber in the direction of anthemic uplift – but scant evidence of the more nuanced talents surrounding him. Still, at least a handful of songs twinkle like drivetime gems.
The second outing for the occasional "supergroup" featuring REM's Peter Buck and producer Jacknife Lee is again dominated by Gary Lightbody. The Snow Patrol singer's fretful voice and character inhabits these cinematic songs of escape, fleeting encounters and the emptiness of life on the road – which will hardly have been eased by making another album. Something of a gentler, more Americana-style Snow Patrol, Tired Pony's songs provide space for Lightbody's lyrics and imagery to breathe.
If the first album by this aspiring supergroup echoed the promise ushered in with the gathering of such impressive pedigrees, then sophomore set The Ghost of the Mountain sees it through to fruition. Indeed, that debut, The Place We Ran From, clearly showed intent, a desire to blend Anglo-American influences with a stark emotional thrust that could negate the parameters imposed by each of the prior projects. So too, any outfit that could boast the combined talents of Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody, REM’s Peter Buck, Young Fresh Fellow’s Scott McCaughey, Belle and Sebastian’s Richard Colburn and stand-alone talents like Iain Archer, Jacknife Lee and Troy Stewart, would have to assume a meeting of the minds before taking to the studio.