The name Tired Pony sounds odd and brings up images of flogging a dead horse, but is, in fact, a new side project for Snow Patrol leader Gary Lightbody. He conceptualised an idea for a country album whilst touring America in 2009 and quicker than your average record exec can shout out “Show me the supergroup!”, he drafted in REM guitarist Peter Buck and Belle and Sebastian drummer Richard Colburn. How a boy from Northern Ireland who fills stadiums with an alternative rock band came to love country music so much is anyone’s guess, but Lightbody calls Tired Pony his “twisted love letter to the States” whilst attempting to create the three chords and the truth that Harlan Howard so famously described country music to be.
During the process the approach changed to “country-tinged” music, and that’s where this project fails. The first single “Dead American Writers” sounds pretty much exactly like Snow Patrol, only with country influenced instrumentations. Altogether affable and radio ready rock, sung in Lightbody’s indie pop delivery, but one wonders what was the point if he was not prepared to rock the boat as the song suggests. If only he had, this could’ve been one of the most exciting projects of the year.
On the rest of the album, Zooey Deschanel ( She & Him) lends vocals on “Get On The Road” and “Held In The Arms of Your Words,” it’s a pretty ballad, but on the whole there is a lot of filler here. On the positive side, Lightbody’s lyrics shine in their sombre reflectiveness. He clearly saw the country that passed behind his tour bus window. Too bad it never made it to the album.
Album available in Europe. US release date September 2010. Preview: www.tiredpony.com