DEAD HORSES RELEASE NEW ALBUM BRADY STREET
The Milwaukee duo return with their first new album in four years
Brady Street will be released August 12
Milwaukee’s eclectic Brady Street neighborhood inspired the title for latest album by folk duo Dead Horses, who are releasing their new album Brady Street on August 12. Blending elements of traditional roots with modern indie folk, Dead Horses are both familiar and unexpected, unflinchingly honest in their portrayal of modern American life, yet optimistic in their unshakable faith in brighter days to come.
The reflective title track, with frontwoman Sarah Vos (vocals, guitar) providing her own backing harmonies and Dan Wolff (upright bass) providing the gently rolling bass line, is an ode to their colorful, free-spirited stomping grounds.“‘Brady Street’ is a song that came out in bits and pieces and took months to finish,” says Vos.
“I never wanted to stop working on it because it seemed to capture something that I’ve never been able to capture in song before — a certain type of mood, a moment, a relationship, a phase. Brady Street itself is in a colorfully eclectic neighborhood of Milwaukee. You never know the type of people or situations you’ll run into there. Dan and I have practically made our lives about this sort of thing! It’s the kind of place where no one exists outside of the norm — perhaps because there is no norm.”
The song, both musically and lyrically, is representative of a coming-of-age for me personally and for Dead Horses. In previous records, I felt I was still searching for an anchor. In ‘Brady Street,’ I realized that the anchor is me.”
Brady Street is the long overdue follow-up to the band’s arresting 2018 album, My Mother The Moon, which landed on multiple high-profile playlists — the single “Turntable” has accrued more than 38 millions Spotify streams — and found the pair profiled in Billboard, Noisey, and independent global news publication Democracy Now, as well as being a Rolling Stone “Artist You Should Know.” The band’s spare instrumentation — upright bass, guitar and drums — provide a perfect backdrop for Vos’ raw, unadorned vocals as she shared songs inspired by her experiences with judgement, homelessness, poverty and coming to terms with her own sexuality.
“In many ways, Brady Street is an answer to My Mother the Moon,” Vos explains. “The latter was written and recorded in the midst of working through childhood traumas and first venturing out on my own in such an uncertain way. Brady Street takes the intimacy of nature and brings it into the city. Instead of walks through the forest, there are walks through neighborhoods, past all of the old churches and bars. Both records are filled with songs of hope and the search for beauty, as well as compassion for others — especially strangers.”
While they recorded in Nashville for their last album, working with producer Ken Coomer (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo), the pair decided to stick to their rural Wisconsin roots for the Brady Street sessions, choosing to record at Honeytone Studios in Neenah, Wisconsin on Lake Winnebego.
“We wanted to produce something that seemed true to us, so we opted for a closer-to-home approach,” explains Daniel Wolff. “The experience allowed us to dive in and out of the studio and really work with the individual songs and the overall feel of Brady Street. Because of this, I believe we created a set of songs that contain a wider variety of sounds and textures that we knew were possible for us but didn’t have the chance to accomplish yet based on our previous recording strategies.”
The second and third tracks open to reveal Dead Horses’ evolution into more intricate places rhythmically and sonically. “It’s All Good” is the first song that they worked on together on after the Covid shutdown. One of the most painful songs on the album is “Ok Kid,” inspired by her brother’s struggles with mental illness.
“I wrote most of this one night while on tour in Bloomington, Indiana. I was having a very difficult time, and I spent a lot of it in my bedroom at the Air BnB. I filled the song with musings on things like money, life, sickness, illusion and ego. I echo the redemption that nature offers to many of us recovering from years of being told that we are inherently sinful. I recalled the time, a summer earlier, that my brother almost died. He suffers severely from schizophrenia and had taken too many of his pills. I was on tour in Boonville, California, when my mom called to say he was in the ICU. My brother’s struggle with schizophrenia had and has a significant influence on my life.”
This song pulls away to the sparsely beautiful, intimate “Bird Over the Train,” which was recorded live. “The imagery of a bird flying over a train is meant to be symbolic of the question of free will. The train is on tracks, on a course, while the bird is flying overhead, perhaps on the same course, perhaps able to change it. This question of free will has fascinated me my entire life and so I’ve even got this image tattooed on my forearm! The song also touches on escape and finding peace within yourself.,” Vos says.
Vos’ resilient “You Are Who You Need to Be” is a ballad meant to empower those who don’t fit into society’s gender and sexuality norms. It’s an anthem of acceptance and compassion for anyone who feels “other.”
“’You Are Who You Need to Be’ is a song meant to empower,” Vos says. “It’s inspired by a friend of mine who has a difficult relationship with his mother because she does not accept him for being gay. I once went to a mutual friend’s wedding, and he took his mom as his date. They seemed like they had such a strong connection that I was blown away by the fact that their relationship was consistently being poisoned by her unwillingness to accept him for who he is. Being queer myself, I know this feeling all too well, and I understand how complicated it can be. Because on one hand, fuck ‘em. But on the other, it’s your mom. It’s your sister. It’s your entire extended family, perhaps. It’s the fear that now that Roe V. Wade is being overturned, gay marriage is next.
“Some of us started that the fight for equal rights was won, as if the gay pride flag just become a symbol of trendiness. I’m here to say that the fight is not won. I’m here to say than when I see a gay pride flag I breathe a sigh of relief because I know there are not only those who are ‘okay’ with gays, but that there are those who are willing to stand for those who don’t fit gender and sexuality norms. The fight’s not over.”
The final tracks, “Under Grey Skies” and “Days Grow Longer,” introduce a different side of the band.
“The sound is more fun and lighthearted than what we usually create, unless you’re looking too hard,” Vos observes.
Dead Horses will be touring extensively for Brady Street, with more dates to be announced soon. Over the years, the road has become somewhat of a second home for Sarah and Dan.“Connecting with people at shows and being open together breathes new life into everything,” Sarah notes. “You can go somewhere and feel like a total stranger or a lost tourist at first,” as Dan perfectly describes the sensation of performing, “but once you hit the stage, you feel like you’re part of a community.”
1. Brady Street
2. It’s All Good
3. Ok Kid
4. Bird Over the Train
5. Birds Can Write the Chorus
6. All I Ever Wanted
8. You Are Who You Need to Be
9. Under Grey Skies
10. Days Grow Longer
TOUR DATES (full band shows):
FRI, SEP 23 WINONA, MN – BOATS & BLUEGRASS
FRI, SEP 30 AURORA, IL – THE VENUE
SUN, OCT 2 INDIANAPOLIS, IN – WHITE RABBIT CABARET
TUE, OCT 4 COLUMBUS, OH – RUMBA CAFE
WED, OCT 5 PENINSULA, OH – THE G.A.R. HALL
THU, OCT 6 PITTSBURGH, PA – CLUB CAFE
FRI, OCT 7 BROOKLYN, NY – UNION POOL
SAT, OCT 8 CAMBRIDGE, MA – ATWOOD’S TAVERN
SUN, OCT 9 PHILADELPHIA, PA – THE LOFT @ CITY WINERY
WED, OCT 12 WASHINGTON, DC – DC9
THU, OCT 13 CARRBORO, NC – CAT’S CRADLE BACKROOM
FRI, OCT 14 CHARLOTTE, NC – THE EVENING MUSE
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