Tall Horse is Nick Poulin, Dominic Grosso and Devin Ivy. Their debut album is called “Glue” and the release show is on Saturday night in Portland.
I put on my headphones, headed to soundcloud.com/tallhorsemusic and listened to “Sour” and “Bees.” “Sour” starts off on a pretty, acoustic note but before I could get too comfortable, electric guitar and drums slammed into the song.
I held my ground and enjoyed the moody ride of the song. “You think I taste sour, no one’s as sour as you,” sings Poulin, sounding none too pleased but with an impassioned voice that made we want to stay with the song. Ivy’s drumming is fervent without being over the top and Grosso’s bass lines flesh out an already solid song.
I listened to “Sour” four times in a row and although it’s heavier than most of the stuff on my iPod, I have room for this song in my life. Note to self: Rock out more.
Next up was “Bees” which I also gave four spins, just to be fair. The song speaks of holding someone under water, but not in a I-want-you-dead sort of way, or so I thought. “I can breath much better under water when you’re there,” sings Poulin. However when I asked Poulin what inspired the song, I realized I was way off base. “It’s about a very close friend of mine who was dating someone with questionable intentions. He essentially tried to get her addicted to heroin so she would slide down the same slippery slope he was on.” Ouch. But it sure makes for a good song.
A few days later Poulin sent me a download link for the entire six-song record and I sat with my oatmeal and gave it a focused listening. “Old Gun Shot” is a morose, countryesque tune about addiction, death and well … love. It features guests McKay Belk on steel guitar and violin, and piano and backing vocals by Patia Maule and Tyler DeVos.
Poulin’s vocals make the line “I want to take you out with one old gun shot to the brain” somehow OK. “Insane” is another one with – for lack of a better word – depressing lyrics about trying to hang on for dear life to someone who might not appreciate the devotion. Yet there’s a delicate loveliness to the song even as it introduces drums and electric guitar a third of the way in.”Lights Out” is a 41/2-minute song with only three lines repeated: “Beat the (expletive) out of me, cause I don’t want to feel/Light me up, so I can let go/It’s lights out.” I don’t need to know what inspired this one but you can feel the emotion by all the musicians on it. The final Tall Horse song of my session was “Walk of Shame.” The song packs more bitterness than a Yankees win at Fenway Park. Suffice to say, Tall Horse songs are not cut from a “Walking on Sunshine” cloth but that’s what makes them so interesting.
Tall Horse CD Release Show with In Flight Safety and Perfect Hair, 10 p.m. Saturday. Empire. 575 Congress St., Portland, $6, 21-plus, portlandempire.com
HAVE A HANKERING for some jazz and R&B? I’m here to help. Lady Zen is a performance poet and singer who likes to weave poetry with jazz, gospel and samba. On Sunday, as she’s done for the past three Sundays in October, Zen is hosting a night called Obbligato.
The show will include music and poetry sung in what Zen describes as perfect harmony with tunes from Roberta Flack, Gil Scott Heron and Billie Holiday. Zen will start the night off with some of her current work and you’ll get to know her new band – stand-up bassist from The Fogcutters Adam Fredrick, drummer Jacob Forbes, tenor saxophonist Patrick Sutor, Jha D Williams and bass clarinetist Toussaint St. Negritude.
Lady Zen presents: Obbligato, 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday. MJ’s Wine Bar, One City Center, Portland. onecitywines.com