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Jethro Tull - Heavy Horses CD (album) cover

HEAVY HORSES

Jethro Tull

 

Prog Folk

4.00 | 786 ratings

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daveconn
Prog Reviewer
4 stars An autumnal record, resplendent as the mosaic of leaves that met me in the woods this morning. Though it seldom gets its due, "Heavy Horses" is arguably the most musically complex of the TULL albums, the fruition of their progressive folk/rock fancies. Similar in scope to "Songs From The Wood", we've entered the dark part of the forest here, the sweet decay of dying leaves thick around us. While tinged with melancholy, "Heavy Horses" is ultimately a resilient effort, celebrating life in the midst of death. We're immediately put on guard with the opening ".And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps", invoking the image of the weathercock and the heavy weather ahead. The two themes -- nature and inhospitable weather -- bridge their last album and their next, Stormwatch, which has always suggested a trilogy to my mind. The songs that follow are as ambitious as anything in their catalog, all hands on deck tending to their musical ministrations, suggesting a unique mixture of independence and teamwork. In a more modern setting, the players could be seen as individual gears that mesh and separate at intervals, all the while driving the music as a great engine. The unconventional rhythms and seemingly disjointed sounds might be initially daunting, but it soon yields to bedazzlement after a few sittings. "Acres Wild", "Journeyman" and "Rover" adopt an irregular gait at first, but this technique allows the listener to pick apart different rhythms and weave them together into a cohesive fabric.

Few TULL albums reward introspection and attention as well as "Heavy Horses" ("Thick As A Brick" and "Minstrel In The Gallery" come to mind). There is a softer side to this record, from the beautiful and bittersweet "Moths" to the warm "One Brown Mouse". At the other end of the spectrum, "No Lullaby" is nearly terrifying in effect, a feat TULL would repeat on Stormwatch's "Dark Ages". The album closes with one of my personal favorites, "Weathercock", which closes this collection of stories much as "Fire At Midnight", on an intimate and optimistic note. Anyone enrapt by the Elizabethan exploits of "Minstrel" and "Songs" would do well to hitch their fortunes to "Heavy Horses". It's one of my favorite albums from JETHRO TULL, which in the parlance of these parts is high praise indeed.

daveconn | 4/5 |

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