“Be yourself, and others will find you”
“Be yourself, and others will find you”
Glasgow-based singer Horse may not be occupying the charts but she commands respect and has gravitas. September 2015 saw her celebrating the 25th anniversary of her breakthrough album The Same Sky, which upon its release, gained critical acclaim, with standout songs such as The Speed Of The Beat Of My Heart, Breathe Me and Careful. The latter of which was covered by Will Young at VFestival in 2009.
Rightly recognised as someone with a vast musical knowledge, married with life experience, she’s now a wise Scottish stateswoman, who gets called upon to host radio shows, comment on the music industry, she gives master classes to help up-and-coming artists and is an ambassador for The Clutha Trust. She also continues to bring much emotion to many people who find solace in the words of her cathartic songs.
Reaching people is important to Horse and it’s also apparent she still loves to perform. She has a faithful following who want to hear her. And when you sound this good – who can blame them? Horse still boasts one of the most remarkable voices in Scottish music.
I saw her recently at her annual Wintersong in December at The Union in East Kilbride, a small intimate venue, decked out with fairy lights. She ran through her songbook and sounded impeccable, even though she struggled with a heavy cold, an affliction which often causes Horse distress due to her asthma. When she sings it’s a very physical act as she puts everything into her voice, so the strain this puts on her can be quite considerable.
She’s a great storyteller who loves to chat, and the night was peppered with funny and sad stories, as well as dedications to the audience and great songs. Careful never fails to move the crowd and renditions of God’s Home Movie and Sweet Thing also stand out, as well as the cover of Dusty Springfield’s I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten.
The video below shows Horse singing this cover version at a previous Wintersong gig in Edinburgh.
This year Horse has already got dates in her diary. You can find her hosting the Gaia Women’s Supper at the Beardmore Hotel and Conference Centre in Glasgow on Friday January 29th. It’s a take on the traditional Burns’ Supper, but for women, and it’s all for a good cause, with money being raised for the Stonewall Scotland charity. Included in the price is a three course supper and entertainment. It looks set to be a great night. You can buy individual tickets priced at £49 or buy a table of 10 places for £490.
Horse also appears in an exclusive cover feature and interview in this month’s Gaia magazine out now – January 2016.
In March she’s touring the UK with a series of dates which will include Newcastle, Liverpool and Ladock in Cornwall.
And April will see Horse with a full band at Glasgow’s Fruitmarket on the 16th of the month.
It’s a mystery why Horse isn’t more widely recognized. When you think of Scottish female vocalists, it’s difficult to think of anyone who could surpass her vocal talents, and when she’s tackling a cover version, she picks the most difficult songs to test her vocal range – and she always nails it.
It seems to be a permanent fixture on the Horse gig calendar for a “Wintersong” slot, which tends to be something special. This time it was held inside the Dirty Martini bar of Le Monde Hotel in Edinburgh. It proved a perfect venue. The intimate setting had small tables and chairs facing the stage while fairy lights created a magical atmosphere.
A stripped back gig, Horse was accompanied with only a piano played deftly by Michael Abubakar who occasionally added in some backing and harmonizing vocals.
The set list was a mix of Horse’s own impressive back catalogue, some old and some new. She also chose some excellent cover versions, including fans’ favourite, Bring Him Home from Les Miserables.
I have seen Horse perform on a variety of occasions in different settings. I’ve also seen her backed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra which was truly spectacular, but standing at the other end of the spectrum, this pared back gig stood out. The smallness of the venue and sparseness meant her voice was truly forefront. Every little intonation and change in range was felt and heard. Some notes were held on to for so long that it seemed impossible had you not heard it with your own ears. Her cover version of the Dusty Springfield classic I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten was simply stunning and perfect for her.
Her cover of the Lady Antebellum song I Need You Now was also sublime and fitted the reflective mood of the set list.
Cover versions aside, she’s got plenty good songs of her own, some are over 20 years old and timeless. There was the seductiveness of Breathe Me and a pared back Careful.
A warm and engaging performer, Horse loves to chat, and in between songs there was plenty of easy banter. People relate to her honesty, sincerity and vulnerability. She’s experienced the sadness of losing her parents and she’s experienced the happiness of love and getting married. She wears her heart on her sleeve and people love her for it.
This was her final gig of 2013 and it was a fitting and reflective round up to a busy year.
Going into 2014, she’s already got a Spring tour lined up for February, she’s taking part in Celtic Connections in Glasgow on January 20th and she’s part of a women’s poetry reading night in Kirkcaldy on January 25th in celebration of Robert Burns’ night.
For more information see: Horse Website
For more information on Celtic Connections see : Celtic Connections 2014 Website
A horse gig is full of drama but it’s also a very human affair. Most aspects of ordinary life come under inspection, because Horse usually has a song she’s written about them in her back catalogue.
And at this gig at the Barrowland there were songs which dealt with life, marriage, death and children.
The stage was as packed as a busy weekend at well … the Barras, and it was also a rare opportunity to see the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on stage in this venue. Horse has appeared with them before in the Barrowland, but way back in 1995. This reunion saw the orchestra expertly conducted by Sally Herbert.
Also on stage were Horse’s band of musicians together with backing singers, Chris Judge, Madaleine Pritchard and Stefanie Lawrence, all stars in their own right.
This wealth of talent which crowded the stage set the bar high. But as soon as Horse appeared and kicked off the gig by singing Careful, we knew the voice was there. Her vocal range was spellbinding and best seen in the sad and sultry Breathe Me from the Same Sky album.
It’s also the 20th anniversary of Horse album God’s Home Movie and we heard a wonderful rendition of the title track, as well as a dip through the impressive back catalogue with Automatic, Some Wonderful, Sweet Thing and Catch My Fall, which featured an amazing string-lead intro from the SCO which the band and backing singers followed up on.
The tracks from the latest album Home are perhaps reflective of Horse’s current situation. She tied the knot at the start of this year, and this batch of songs sounded happy and joyful. A particular highlight was the jaunty and romantic Alanna’s Waltz, named after her partner.
Moving on from marriage to children, we heard the lovely Starfish which was dedicated to little ones. And from birth and new life we went to the other end of the spectrum where we were gifted a rare outing of An End Of Days. A song Horse has never sung live before. It was written after the loss of her parents, and it proved to be a particularly tender and thoughtful moment as the Barrowland fell silent.
But there was also time for celebration as Horse got her aim to get the “Barrowland bouncing” during a lively Shake This Mountain.