Your Favorite Horse: Summerland
Scarcelight Recordings

Your Favorite Horse: Cavalo Blues
Scarcelight Recordings

Although issued separately, the 3-inch discs Summerland and Cavalo Blues were recorded between 2001 and 2002 and therefore could just as easily have been released as a full-length (or perhaps mini-album) by Chris Jeely. It's fitting that he opts for a separate alias here, as Your Favorite Horse occupies a dramatically different realm, one more introspective, vulnerable, and emotionally direct, than the abstract explorations pursued under the Accelera Deck guise.

Summerland documents in painfully naked manner Jeely's struggles with alcoholism. The disc's five songs are skeletally arranged for voice and guitar, though his trademark guitar manipulations dominate the instrumentals and surface within the others to add subtle enhancement and depth. He veers down the hell-hound trail on “King Alcohol” (“Everyday I woke up, prayed that I would die / Started drinking early, just to open up my eyes”), funereal folk-blues whose lyrics are delivered resignedly, as if with Jeely's last breath; brief moments of soft glimmer pierce the despair though, intimating modest semblance of recovery. Bleak hopelessness also permeates the hymnal interlude “No One Knows I'm Gone” (written by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan) and “Bended Knee Blues” (“Remember when we were young / And we said that the sun / Would never set on our dreams / But we're all talk it seems”). The disc closes with two instrumentals, blurry, industrial loops dominating the title track and glitchy guitar shadings and flutter in “Reprise” recalling Accelera Deck.

The general mood of Cavalo Blues is healthier, more animated and lively, though the lo-fi, bedroom-recording ambiance retains Summerland's intimate feel. “From Season To Season” gets Cavalo Blues off to an upbeat start, though Jeely's lyrics still ooze ominous tidings (“The dogs of war are sleeping in my bed”); song titles like “I Feel The Evil Of The World” and “Beloved Corpse” suggest similar moods though that can be deceiving. The latter, for example, fixates less on the “beloved corpse of memory” and more on staking out a life freed from suffocating habits of convention, while “Spiderleg” paints a scathing portrait of Jeely's home town, a crumbling city where “everyone is walking dead.” Like before, guitar enhancements colour many of the disc's eight songs (thrumming needles behind the acoustic strums and hushed vocals of “I Feel The Evil Of The World,” fluttering ripples in “Beloved Corpse”) though some (“Shadow Boxing Blues”) remain stark settings of primarily acoustic guitar and vocals. Significantly, the refrain “I will rise again” appears in the last song, offering an expression of hopeful determination that's stronger than any other heard throughout these companion discs.

March 2005