Album Review | Skinny Dennis Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5
The first thing that hits you when you hear the sound of Rachel Harrington is the hurt in her voice. It seems genuine and real and when you read between the lines and crucially, listen to the lines themselves, it doesn’t take much to find the essence of Rachel Harrington’s heartbreak. During her recent convalescence after suffering exhaustion following some heavy duty touring, the Oregon-based singer songwriter took some time out to recharge, rescue a couple of horses, mourn her grandmother’s passing and write some songs.
Hush the Wild Horses is Rachel’s fifth studio album and features eleven remarkable songs that cover a range of topics, from war, addiction, childhood abuse to horses of course. Tipping her cowboy hat to her songwriting hero Guy Clark, Rachel taps into Clark’s unique craft and writes a song, along with Mandolin Hooper (great name), which could easily have come from the master songwriter’s pen. “Susanna” serves as a fine tribute to two much missed figures on the music scene. Bookended by two songs based on our equine friends, “Hush the Wild Horses” and “If Wishes Were Horses” focus on Rachel’s most recent project, the care and protection of two horses, both of which were heading for a grim fate. If anything can pull an ailing songwriter through recovery, then wild horses are possibly hard to beat.
Rachel approaches difficult subjects with an almost tangible sense of Cathartic determination, “Child of God” not only touches upon, but pounds with an iron fist the subject of childhood abuse, whilst “Save Yourself” serves as a heartfelt reach out to her meth-addicted brother. Despite almost forty-five years since the end of the Vietnam War, the effects are still being felt, not only by the veterans themselves but also the people around them. “Mekong Delta” is a tender reflection, inspired by the letters left by an uncle who committed suicide upon his return from South East Asia. This is an album that really tugs on the heartstrings.
Choice Track: “Susanna” (NSV 486)