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The Wild Horse (Bonus Tracks Version)

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Album Review

After a few years spent wandering the concept album hallways and flattening out crumpled balls of forgotten poetry, Chris Von Sneidern returned to the lush pop landscape for Wild Horse (Innerstate). The piano-driven opener, "Remember," is appropriately jaunty, but it's the false bottom of a bittersweet box of treats. "When all my friends bought second houses they were pleased," he sings in the pretty yet foreboding "Glory Days Are Gone." "I took the bus and thought I'd maybe make the rent." Von Sneidern's a bit jaded it seems, but at least he hasn't lost his knack for a hook. He struggles with similar issues throughout Wild Horse but never fails to wrap the mortality, identity, and musings on middle age in waves of crackling guitar, power pop bursts, or stately piano. Standouts include the stirring, rustic epic "Great American Dream," the aforementioned "Glory Days," and the rousing '70s-style rocker "Ooh Mama Mama," which offers a break from some of the album's more dour moments. Von Sneidern handled production himself, and he tricks out Wild Horse with plenty of nice touches. The breathy harmonies of "(Watch Them) Ride Away" are in perfect balance with the track's moody piano, while harmonica twinges the waltzing "Horse House." Von Sneidern's bitter pills and melancholy self-defeat can be a bit hard to take over a whole album. But his varied songcraft and tasteful instrumentation soften the blow considerably.

Biography

Born: Syracuse, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A longtime fixture of the Bay Area power pop scene, Chris Von Sneidern was one of the pop underground's more accomplished singer/songwriters, earning a cult following with a string of indie releases during the '90s. Born in Syracuse, NY, Von Sneidern joined a local outfit called the U-Turns in the early '80s before relocating to San Francisco in 1985. He played with several locally based power pop bands — including the Lost Patrol and (as bassist) the Sneetches — before joining Flying...
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The Wild Horse (Bonus Tracks Version), Chris Von Sneidern
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