Listening Post: 4 records you should hear this week
Excerpt: Johnny Dowd, “That’s Your Wife on the Back of My Horse”
Johnny Dowd is a preacher of sorts—not a kind, easygoing minister of God’s love but one who focuses on the punishment and consequences of poor decisions. His past records have been chronicles of man’s inability to control his base instincts and primal emotions. It makes for fascinating stories detailing the lives of morally questionable characters who aren’t always in full control of their own lives. Pairing these bucolic narratives with ragged acoustic arrangements and a deadpan vocal delivery, Dowd acts as the carnival barker beckoning us closer into his tent of wonder and dread.
On his latest record, “That’s Your Wife on the Back of My Horse,” he once again dives headfirst into a world of degenerates, lust-mongers and liars. But far from making it seem enticing, these narratives drain the acts of all anticipation and show them in all their dreary reality. Dowd weaves an astringent mixture of atonal acousticism and rough-hewn keyboard lines throughout the track. It’s an unexpected set of sounds that still manages to create an affecting landscape of misery and woe. Singer Anna Coogan joins Dowd on a handful of songs to give the record an opposing viewpoint—and this dichotomy in perspective gives the album an immediacy that catches you off guard. Full of sad figures, deplorable acts and broken consciences, this record will have you questioning the choices in your own life—and how best to stay out of one of Dowd’s songs.