Red Horse by Eliza Gilkyson, John Gorka, and Lucy Kaplansky (2010. Red House Records)

First off, these three are three of my favorite folk singer-songwriters of the modern era. All three of them are great vocalists and hugely creative talents on their own. One would expect that the combination of such ability would exponentially increase the beauty and power of their music. And, on some tracks, including “Don’t Mind Me”, “Sanctuary”, and “Walk Away from Love”, the individuals achieve collectively what they couldn’t attain if they were singing on their own albums. The harmonies are great. The instrumentation is perfect. The phrasing and sound amazing.

That having been said, I was mildly disappointed. These three are a more powerful collective, if one takes a look at their individual talents and output over the past twenty years, than another project that involved Kaplansky a few years back, Cry, Cry, Cry. That amalgamation included Kaplansky, Dar Williams, and Richard Shindell in its brief but powerful configuration. Williams and Gilkyson have a similar, breathy romanticism to their voices. Kaplansky is Kaplansky. But Gorka and Shindell are dissimilar artists. For what it’s worth, Gorka is the better of the two in terms of songwriter and performer. And yet, as a collective, Cry, Cry, Cry seems, in my humble opinion, to be a better grouping. Can’t definitively say why. It just seems so.

But here’s the thing: If you don’t have CDs by all of these fine artists, or are missing a CD from any one of them, this album is a good place to start. There really isn’t a weak track on the disk and you’ll have plenty of great music to consider as you work around the house or drive to work.

4 stars out of 5.

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