Pale Horse

The Woodland Hunters are a guitar band from Melbourne, Australia. Two members also play in The Sand Pebbles. Releases to date are an EP “So Far to Travel, So Far to Go” (2015), the debut album “Let’s Fall Apart” (2016) and the most recent album “The Thoughts of Chairman Jim” (2019). The gap between releases has narrowed somewhat with the arrival of a new one “Pale Horse” which is released in April 2020.

With seven tracks clocking in at just under 35 minutes you get blues inflected guitar music of the highest order. The band describe themselves as “a heady mix of influences from 60’s guitar wig-outs to swamp rock, 70’s jam bands to raw’n’dusty Americana” and this collection meets that set of criteria but I’d argue there’s a degree of populism in there as well, with an eye to melody and hooks.

Many contemporary bands that might generally be described as blues rock overplay their hand and you end up with a lumpen mass of indigestible sound, with overlong tracks and endless guitar solos. The Woodland Hunters are uniquely different in that they are able to transcend the genre with songs that have variety in their arrangements, where they use their guitars with sensitivity and taste, and top things off with great vocals . That variety also applies between tracks, with for example the 60s rock of “Happy Disaster”, with a memorable spoken word intro from Ursula Woods, next to the west coast vibe of the country picking of “O Melancholia”, followed by the fuzzed out delta blues of “Trouble Everyday”.

A high-point of the album is the guitar duelling of “Bad Voodoo at the Tiki Bar” which will have your Dead Head chums smacking their lips with joy at the interplay between Andrew Tanner and Ross Richard. However, all good albums should end with a tour de force, that leaves the punter wanting more, and this one does with the laconic but emotional title track “Pale Horse” which takes the best of CSNY or Crazy Horse and puts it in a modern context.

An excellent third album from a great band.

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