Close your eyes. You are in a red Chevy Impala, top down, riding through the desert smack dab in the middle of a Quentin Tarantino revenge film. You can taste the blues and the south and the sweat and you can't help but growl about it.
Riffs and rasp are smothered into 13 tracks that play like a gritty soundtrack to an angsty plot line. Lonely Horse fans have been waiting for Desert Sons since the bluesy fuzz-driven duo’s emergence into the San Antonio music scene several years ago. Released August 1 under URNTV, the first full-length album by Lonely Horse was recorded at El Paso’s Sonic Ranch with some additional vocals recorded at Ashby House in San Antonio.
The group is a millennial hippie’s dream come true with stylistic similarities to Woodstock headliners. There is a Zepplinesque nostalgic quality to the songs’ structures, straightforward lyrics and ability to cater to the dancing of drug-induced fans. Desert Sons exists somewhere between “When The Levee Breaks” and “Hear My Train A Comin’” with more sound and soul than you thought could come from two people. Drawback? There will always inevitably be one drunk chick at the show, front and center, who can't help but sway with all her limbs like she is straight out of a 70’s love colony.
A haunting is felt immediately that is created with the guitar reverb and distinctly reduced tempo on the opening track, “My Desert Son” Frontman Nick Long admits that every song is incredibly personal, meaning vulnerability is crucial to the honesty. “Timber Leaf,” is dedicated to his son and touches on the tumultuous relationship with his ex-wife. The track carries a gentle almost apologetic tone, heard especially during the drop out at 5:10 “When you left here / left your mind / but I carry it / around with me baby all the time / could have you stayed with me / I don’t think that’s something that would ever be.”
“White White People,” “Black People” and “Red People” are clearly dealings with ethnicity and racial unrest as enacted through Long himself. The lead singer has a connection to his Native American peoples and has been very public about the injustices he has faced as a man of color. “White White People” in particular reflects a revolutionary spirit of sorts, “I’ll give you my skin / my black and red skin / so you can feel what it’s like / to have a fire within.”
Head bangers in the literal sense of the phrase, “And the Number 3” and “Black People” best represent the defining sound San Antonio locals fell in love with. Both feature a similar fuzz-laden riff hitting hard on the quarter notes allowing listeners the chance to nod their heads in tempo and agreement.
The echoed presence that resonates throughout the album is, again, depicted through the layered vocals on “Te Toca a Ti Y Mata.” The steady instrumental builds up to panning vocals that are accompanied by lightly rattling symbols and it is both hypnotic and haunting. Having jumped and swayed during more Lonely Horse shows than I dare count, I can attest to the incredible relateability in chanting “I don’t give a damn / I don’t give a daaaaaaaaamn” on this track. Long’s extended vocalizations communicate a particular guttural yearning that begs to be understood. It feels like there is a ghost in him… lingering.