Songstress Emma Ruth Rundle Surprises With Knowing New Record, ‘On Dark Horses’

Emma Ruth Rundle presents a darkly textured vision on On Dark Horses, her newest full length that’s out now via Sargent House. The eight tracks weave together into an inviting but complex picture. They’re soft but substantive musical snapshots.

The important and pressing complexity becomes more clear the longer one listens to the record. In a framework traditionally relegated to relatively easily understood songs that are, well, “sad,” she crafts something new. Her emotional synthesis extends beyond the realm of sadness into areas like longing, drive, and contemplation and even comfort and a sense of love.

The “love” of this record feels deeply emotional and even somewhat visceral, rather than fleeting or temporal. There’s a fuller picture of love than might be found elsewhere in “love songs.” Rundle understands.

At the same time, the record’s presentation doesn’t rest solely with what she’s strictly saying. Every note feels carefully and thoughtfully tied to the whole, a sense heightened by the fact that there’s hardly any speed here.

On Dark Horses presents the sound of a full life that’s being subjected to close inspection; in the midst of the at times morbid tones, there’s a fullness and a push forward.

The sense of width and depth to the work calls to mind some earlier projects Rundle has worked on, like the meditative post-rock group Marriages, but there’s more to it than just recycling. You might say that this is clear thanks to how prolific she’s proven as a solo artist, with four full lengths in five years. She has taken her unique contemplative perspective on life and placed it in a new environment.

On Dark Horses contains a soundtrack to life that grows on you as it goes along. Rundle relies heavily on music that’s not too complicated but still feels thick and itself emotional. In other words, the playing on the album isn’t just a “simple” single acoustic guitar line, and that’s important to the overall feel and presentation. She’s released a work that accompanies the listener off into the future, whatever exactly those days still to come entail. At the same time, the work rests on a substantive comforting mood to fall back on. 

5/5 Stars

Listen below, via Bandcamp