Album review: AMY SPEACE & THE ORPHAN BRIGADE – There Used To Be Horses Here

AMY SPEACE & THE ORPHAN BRIGADE – There Used To Be Horses Here

Proper Records [Release date 30.04.21]

This is a very personal album from Amy Speace as she looks back on a twelve-month span between her son’s first birthday and the loss of her father. The album’s lyrical themes cover childhood memories, coming of age in New York City, and losing a parent while learning to become one.

As Amy Speace states in the press release, “A month after I turned 50, I gave birth to my son, Huckleberry. My father was present for the birth and held him within hours. My Dad was 81 years old and we both knew my Dad would not see my son grow up.”

On the album she is again joined by producer Neilson Hubbard (vocals, acoustic guitar, drums, percussion), with Amy Speace requesting his band, the Orphan Brigade – Ben Glover (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Joshua Britt (vocals, mandolin, mandola) – back her on the album.

‘Father’s Day’ (a song that genuinely brought tears to this reviewer’s eyes) and ‘Grief Is A Lonely Land’ are songs that tug at the heart, especially given the emotional singing by Amy Speace. ‘I am better these days, although it still comes in waves’ encapsulates how although grief may get better over time, it never fades.

The use of a string quartet adds an extra dimension to ‘Give Me Love’, a wonderfully gentle love song, aided further by the guitar and subtle percussion. ‘River Rising’ and ‘Hallelujah Train’ add some pace to the proceedings, the latter a proper lively sing-a-long beloved of late in Bruce Springsteen’s last couple of albums.

Americana and American folk music are in safe hands with such a talented artist as Amy Speace. An album that has many moods and musical delights to savour. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

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