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Zoe Boekbinder and Dustin Hamman - Among Horses II (Kudos Records)

The story apparently goes that the New Orleans-based singer songwriter Zoe Boekbinder and Portland's Dustin Hamman, also a singer songwriter, were dropped off at a farm 'in the middle of nowhere', actually a solar powered farm house in Northern Spain, surrounded by endless pine tree covered hills, scattered with Spanish horses, and were given seven days to get to know one another and come up with some music. One can only imagine what would have happened had things gone horribly wrong, but fortunately, with the help of a bunch of vintage microphones and a handful of instruments, things went rather well, the result being the six original songs on this EP.

The 'Among Horses' concept is rather a good idea, where complete strangers are put together to make music. Based in Barcelona, this collaborative enterprise released the first in the series as AMONG HORSES I, which saw a collaboration between Withered Hand and Singer of Songs and we are told that there is already a third combination in preparation. In this idyllic setting, both Zoe and Dustin pooled their creative resources to create these songs, one or two of them sounding very much a part of their surroundings, Celebrate for instance, which utilises convincing mariachi-styled trumpets, whilst the opening song, Sixty Spanish Horses, relates directly to the farm's most notable feature right outside the temporary studio door. What the songs may lack in polish, they gain in both energy and immediacy, a sort of Antony (and the Johnsons) meets Madeleine Peyroux, leaving the listener breathless by the end of the 26-minute EP.     

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky