If music lore is to be believed, Cynic’s New Year, the last album put out by Justin Ringle, the driving force behind Horse Feathers, spoke to his melancholy outlook on life and music-making. But after a lengthy hiatus from recording, Ringle got back to his open mic roots and began performing gigs with an assemblage of his musical friends, including, for the first time in Horse Feathers’ history, a percussion section featuring Dustin Dybvig. He says of this time, “the joy of playing live became its own reward, and I dared myself to allow that joy to shape the songwriting.”
Horse Feathers has always made dreamy, expansive tracks, but So It Is With Us, more so than any of the band’s previous records, unfolds with the spontaneity and excitement of experimentation that comes with a new group of collaborators and the new attitude towards creation that he describes. There is a mature cohesiveness to this release, which is imbued with blended elements of rock, country, and bluegrass. So It Is With Us is gauzy, luxurious, and unapologetically, to borrow Ringle’s own word, joyous. Ringle confesses that he “finally arrived at the enlightened idea that maybe it should just be a little more fun.” It seems that after a decade of making music, he’s discovered that you don’t necessarily have to be serious to be taken seriously, and for that, we can all be thankful.
– Emily Gawlak