Steve Von Till - A Grave Is A Grim Horse
Neurot Recordings
Acoustic Rock, Neofolk
11 songs (48:00)
Release year: 2008
Steve Von Till, Neurot Recordings
Reviewed by Goat

A Grave Is A Grim Horse, the third solo album from Neurosis vocalist and guitarist Steve Von Till, is quite far from the tribal collectiveness of his main band. This is all about the man with his guitar – although there are other musicians in the background, they are just a backing sound for Von Till’s deep and authentically gruff voice. Where this kind of music stands or falls, of course, is the atmosphere conjured up by this minimalism and you’d be frankly mad to expect some superficial ‘pop’ album from a figure of such standing. Need it even be said? From the first ambient hums of the opening title track you’ll be hooked, Von Till tapping into that same vein of Americana that gives artists such as Neil Young and Johnny Cash their timeless frisson.

The songs here are both original and reinterpretations, Von Till mixing his own songs freely with those of Nick Drake, Townes Van Zant, Mickey Newberry and Lyle Lovett. Speaking from a personal point of view, it’s always fascinated me how American singer-songwriters can channel that mysterious 'other' that other countries’ artists can’t, how they have that ability to raise hairs on the back of your neck with such simple tools as the human voice. We British struggle to connect with nature in these modern, industrialised times, when most live in cities, and even the countryside is well on the way to being one large retirement home. Americans, on the other hand, have it easy – they can go from snow to desert in a matter of hours, without having to get in an aeroplane to get there. The fact that Von Till has moved from his home city to the wilderness of Northern Idaho is clearly reflected on the songs here, Looking For Dry Land especially having the sense of a wanderer seeking a haven, a place to call home.

Everyone will have their own favourites, and indeed it’s nigh on impossible to pick out highlights from an album that is as close to sitting down with the man and having him give you a personal concert as you’re going to get. Neurosis fans will appreciate the chance to see an alternate side of Von Till, assuming they’ve missed his first two albums, and Metalheads that appreciate subtlety and melody in their music should have no trouble despite the lack of riffage. It takes real talent to make music that’s worth listening to, and Steve Von Till is that and more – this is perfect for a long day after work, when your brain is screaming for something mellow to unwind to, when your disillusioned soul longs to give that daily toil up and get back to basics. Alas, we can’t forget it all, but we can live through another’s experience, and this is a trip into the wild that is hard to forget.

Samples can be found via link below

Killing Songs :
Album as a whole
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Steve Von Till that we have reviewed:
Steve Von Till - A Life unto Itself reviewed by Alex and quoted 70 / 100
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