Emma Ruth Rundle – On Dark Horses

Rating: 3.5/5
Distributor/label URL: https://sargenthouse.com
Released: 2018
Buy Album [URL]: https://emmaruthrundle.bandcamp.com/album/on-dark-horses
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/emmaruthrundle/

Band line-up:



1. Fever Dreams
2. Control
3. Darkhorse
4. Races
5. Dead Set Eyes
6. Light Song
7. Apathy on the Indiana Border
8. You Don’t Have To Cry


‘On Dark Horses’ is Emma Ruth Rundle’s fourth solo album. On it, Rundle isn’t afraid of confronting unpleasant realities through her lyrics and she doesn’t retreat into private solitude. She explains ‘In the wake of weak beginnings, we can still stand high. The album is about… embracing the crippling situation and then growing beyond it.’ Indeed, she has established her career by sharing her wounds with her audience, yet also by giving off an air of mystery which can be heard in her dreamy music.

How does Emma’s sensitivity show in her material? Her vocals are clearly highly emotional with all her usages of vibrato which is almost on the verge of tears, but her delivery is perhaps a little too sentimental for many. This is far from manly rock music, despite the distorted guitars that represent her strong will power. They make things a little less embarrassing for men to listen to, but they’d have to have balls to blast this stuff out of their cars. They could well get laughed at. It wouldn’t be so bad if a song or two was girly, but the whole album is very similar in tone, hypothetically making the abuse worse, but also making the listening experience a little monotonous. Furthermore, melodies and chord progressions whilst pleasing and soothing aren’t too adventurous.

The music is supposedly about overcoming adversity, but that doesn’t really come across in this album, as very little positivity is demonstrated. The idea of embracing unpleasant unhappy times certainly shows, but still, arguably the concept of the album hasn’t been completely pulled off. The routine steady beats of the bass drums and snares are effective in giving the impression of a frustrating lack of freedom however, which is another theme of the words. Again on the plus side, all of these traits put together make great background or contemplating music. As few things change, there is little to distract you from your thoughts and there almost is no ugliness to spoil your mood. Having said that, the low male vocals that sometimes appear are kind of creepy and gothic sounding, making the target audience rather ambiguous in places.

In conclusion, despite the music’s sameness it’s actually put together quite nicely. The vocals merge with the chords perfectly well and those chords have lots of colour to them even if they are far from surprising. However, everything has a risk of sounding like one long blur that’s easy to lose focus of. Again, any male fans of this music may want to keep their opinions to themselves, though they can in part make themselves look less girly, by pointing out the odd goth influences. This music is definitely worth buying if you’re into a certain mood, but it would be good if there were more of them.

Review by Simon Wiedemann