Acoustic at the Ryman

Band of Horses have always had a folkie core, but it's usually been hidden beneath layers of Nineties guitar noise on their four studio albums. Acoustic at the Ryman, recorded at the historic Nashville venue over two nights last April, replaces the fuzz with piano balladry and complex multipart harmonies. Frontman Ben Bridwell's vocals are perfectly suited to the change-up, as are most of the songs here. Band of Horses' 2006 breakout single, "The Funeral," fares the poorest – its slow-burn intensity gets dull in a hurry when the trademark guitar explosion doesn't show up. But tracks like "No One's Gonna Love You" and "Factory" find gorgeous, mournful new meaning here.

From The Archives Issue 1203: February 27, 2014