Album Review: Emma Ruth Rundle – ‘On Dark Horses’

Posted: by The Editor

Multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle has released her fourth solo album On Dark Horses via Sargent House. Rundle, who has been involved in several music projects has cemented her spot next to labelmate Chelsea Wolfe in the forefront of beautifully eerie rock music.

Rundle emerged in 2008 singing in dark psychedelic-folk project The Nocturnes. In 2010 she was a part of instrumental post rock/metal act Red Sparowes lending guitars on their third release, The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer. She came into her own with Marriages a year later, a three piece that ties post-rock with dreamy melodic shoegaze music. With her solo releases she fuses her musical past, all the while exploring inner darkness.

This is the follow up to her 2016 outing Marked For Death, which dealt with self-destructiveness of addiction and issues of mental health. A personal endeavor on dealing with demons within. On Dark Horses has an overcoming feel to it, a sense of empowerment. Horses being a thematic symbol on this record, prevailing and magnificent creatures that are not entirely free. This is showcased lyrically and sonically with every apprehensive cymbal crash as if they were those of galloping horses.

The exquisitely alluring guitar tones throughout showcase Rundle’s talent as a guitarist. Melody is prevalent as it rings true on every brawny guitar line. This album marks the first time Rundle isn’t solely responsible for the guitars on one of her solo releases. Evan Patterson of Young Widows fame who has also released music as Jaye Jayle in which Emma Ruth Rundle has appeared on as well. The duo even released an album together. Patterson adds another dreary layer with his intricate guitar work. His looming baritone backing vocal appearance on “Light Song” creates an intense atmosphere when matched with Rundle’s melancholic delivery.

As tremendous as the instrumentation is on this album, Rundle’s vocals is the captivating impetus here. It is afflicted yet delicate and otherworldly cinematic in nature. It has the ability to gracefully float along and move like the ocean’s waves rising, falling, and crashing into experimental genre weaving ambience. At times her voice serves as a guiding light through murkiness. The album’s finale is a warm embrace, a feeling of closure as she states “You don’t have to cry anymore.” An abstract listen of understanding and coming to terms with an emotional hurdle and building up the strength to leap beyond it passionately.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

Tyler Holland | @InTyler_WeTrust