With the January 2017 release of their sophomore studio album, How It All Goes Down, The Show Ponies sends up a proverbial flare signaling that they will be a band to watch in the coming year. Combining influences of folk, rock and bluegrass is certainly nothing new but the five member group does this in a way that sounds fresh and unique.
Lyrically the album reflects on the inevitably finite journey of life relaying the stories sometimes through the lens of someone in the middle of the struggles and other times as someone who has survived the struggles and has wisdom to share. Throughout, the instrumentation enhances the lyrics whether it is rock laden and guitar driven or poignantly dripping with fiddle.
“This World Is Not My Home” is a rollicking bluegrass reminder to live life to the fullest with the assurance of an ever better life beyond death. It’s impossible to listen to this song without feeling the joy while “Bravery Be Written” is an earnest, somber prayer for the courage to live a life with purpose. The song is short in duration but long on impact.
“Kalamazoo” begins filled with questioning and doubt as a relationship is left behind. As an affecting, mid song instrumental bridge is a musical deep breath resulting in the conclusion that leaving was the only thing to do. “I would rather feel it all/ everything at the same time/than feel numb in my mind.”
One of the most rock influenced songs on the album is “Shoulda Showed Him.” It’s a defiant look back at an abusive relationship. “Only Lie” softens the rock in the autopsy of a failed marriage sharing her side and his side of the story with alternating voices in the verses and strong harmonies on the common ground the two share.
How It All Goes Down is a strong album start to finish and a fine way to start the new year. Fans of Punch Brothers, Mandolin Orange and/or The Avett Brothers should definitely put this one on their list. Find out more about The Show Ponies at www.theshowponies.com and pre-order the album on iTunes or Google Play.