I think anyone that listens to a ton of music develops a bullshit detector. So when I hear something new by, let's say Jason Mraz or Jack Johnson or even Springsteen's brand new lyrical turd "Queen of The Supermarket", I immediately cry "bullshit". I just know when I hear something that seems forced or strained. With Jason Heath and The Greedy Souls' The Vain Hope of Horse, the detector is off. Not everything is a bullseye, but the record has a pitch perfect bare bones production that allows the acoustic mix of violins, acoustic guitars, standup bass, piano, accordian, harmonica and slide guitar to effortlessly complement Heath's tough guy country punk rock loser broken hearted tales of dusty dreams and despair.
The sound reminds me of the wide open spaces on Uncle Tupelo's Anodyne, like it was recorded right in your living room. Heath's vocals have a little of Ike Reilly's bite and Jeff Tweedy's angst and they convey the scufflin' life of nothing but bad luck or worse in "Thunderstruck" ("don't stand next to me unless you want to be stuck by lightning") or falling in love with an "Anarchist Girl" ("she throws a kiss as good as she can throw a brick") complete with "boh-boh" chorus.
If it wasn't was for Hayes Carll, I'd say this was the best alt-country record released in 2008. And it's been pretty hard to dig up much on these guys other than they got some cool friends (Nels Cline, Wayne Kramer, Tom Morello) who guest on the record and they seem like bad-asses from L.A. who have all the right influences. If anyone who's reading this can shed more light on these guys, I'd appreciate it.
Fans of The Band, Jayhawks, Lucero, Uncle Tupelo, Steve Earle, The Pogues and Paul Westerberg - you need this record.