Horse Thief is not a psychedelic folk band, like its members want you to believe; the Oklahoma City quintet plays trendy indie pop with some earthy guitar tones and lyrics that occasionally make mention of geography.
Self-affixed or otherwise, labels arent necessarily indicative of artistic worth, yet framework and context are crucial in determining whether a band is genuinely working to its strengths or simply trying to be something it is not.
The new five-track release, Grow Deep, Grow Wild, comes off as the latter, lacking the mystique, poignancy and charisma it so desperately seeks to embody.
That said, the group has talent. You dont sign to a label as esteemed as Bella Union without it. The melodies are strong and the record sounds nice (a by-product of ACM@UCO training), but whatever pleasure one derives from the music is negated by Cameron Neals inscrutably lazy lyrics, which are often just silly and distracting, and his delivery, which emits a grating sense of melodrama and self-importance.
The potential is there, but until the band fully embraces risk (or the absence of it), Horse Thief will remain a famished paper tiger. Zach Hale