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Getting to Say Wow: Chadwick Stokes and his The Horse Comanche

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Chadwick Stokes’s new solo album, The Horse Comanche, is a wonderful blend of Paul Simon and the Beatles—and that combination makes pure Stokes.  Only his second solo studio album, The Horse Comanche sounds like that of a accomplished veteran.  It is, though most of Stokes’s work is as frontman of the bands Dispatch and State Radio.   This 2015 release confirms he can do great work as a solo artist as well.

His 2015 effort is really something new for Stokes, a different sound with a wonderful melding of influences.  The result is a complex and compelling album with lots of layers, and it reveals more and more with each listening.  That’s the recipe for a rewarding album, one worth getting to know well.  Peculiar little songs like “Dead Badger”—you’ve guessed the subject if you think the inspiration is from a dead badger—take a while to fully appreciate, though the result seems like the discovery of a classic in the making.  The songwriting is a clear strength here.

Tunes such as “Pine Needle Tea,” ”Mother Maple,” and “I Want You Like a Seatbelt” not only show their homage to songwriters such as Cat Stevens and Paul Simon but they also show Stokes as a songwriter worthy of that heritage. 

The Horse Comanche is very different from Stokes’s work with State Radiothe  and their reggae-inflected and the experience may be jarring (at first) for those expecting more of the same.  It is certainly rewarding to find such a solid album though, no matter how you come to it.


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