Bonny Light Horseman: Rolling Golden Holy
Arriving just before the pandemic locked us all in place, Bonny Light Horseman’s 2020 debut provided some much-needed glimmering light in the darkest of times—stunning folk from the wildly talented minds of Anaïs Mitchell, Fruit Bats’ Eric D. Johnson and Josh Kaufman, who has played with The National, Bob Weir and others. That debut racked up a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album. If it’d been a one-off and all three returned to their successful careers, then fans would’ve forgiven them. But with Rolling Golden Holy, they deliver on the promise of their debut with a new collection of warm, beautiful, honest songs. Mitchell, Johnson and Kaufman are responsible for writing the album’s 11 tracks and that deep musical partnership shines brightly— from the way Johnson and Mitchell’s voices flutter around each other, trading lines in most songs as if in conversation, to the way this music swells and subsides like waves. Take the gorgeous “Comrade Sweetheart,” in which these rich voices intertwine and rise with the word “who’s,” then fade away with “gonna bind up your wounds?” and “gonna make my heart break?” Their duetting vocals, and the swirling acoustic strumming around them, allow the songs to come to life—inhaling and exhaling as you do—making for a lovely, deeply human listening experience. On opener “Exile,” Johnson sets the tone for the album: “Love, love, love/ The beating of my heart/ The winging of a dove when I’m in the dark.” It let’s you know what’s coming: gentle, emotional folk music here to embrace you.