Not so much indie rock’s take on Trout Fishing in America or On the Road, the debut album from Gary Lightbody’s new supergroup Tired Pony arrives with an emotional storm between two lovers and ends up in pieces. What transpires along the way are pages of weary long-distance dedications and sublime moments of clarity and lovingly melodic folk-tinged slices of life with America as the unpredictably tidal backdrop. All seen through the well-travelled eyes of Snow Patrol frontman Lightbody, super-producer Garret “Jacknife” Lee, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and a team of pedigreed co-conspirators such as Belle & Sebastian’s Richard Colburn and special guests Zooey Deschanel and Tom Smith of the Editors.

At the hands of a lesser artists, The Place We Ran From could have easily have become a self-indulgent mess of overly serious, convoluted odes to Sun Studios, Nashville, New Orleans and Dustbowl-era poetry. What ended up in the final mix pledges allegiance to Wilco, Nick Drake, Neil Young and Sufjan Stevens, and less to Johnny Cash, but what a tempestuous mix it is. The gorgeous, haunting “Northwestern Skies” is vintage Lightbody lyricism, finding “beauty in slamming doors,” warning that “there are no answers in the tempest.” From there, impassioned escapism through valleys, basins and inscriptions (“Get On the Road,” “Point Me at Lost Islands” with Deschanel) gives way to wrenching heartbreak and loneliness (“Dead American Writers,” “Held In The Arms Of Your Words,” “That Silver Necklace”).

Be warned, and get your Grammy ballot ready: the album’s victory shot rests with award-winning songwriter Iain Archer, who trots out the greatest moment of hobo blues this side of T. Bone Burnett with “I Am a Landslide.” Think O Brother, and you’re in the right truckbed. It’s an achingly earnest and spine-tingling piece of Americana that feels as authentic as grandma’s clothes lines in her orchard. The Editors’ Smith who saddles up to the “The Good Book” with his vampiric baritone, is comfortably numb “in the darkest December,” and yearning to forget all that came before.

As the central figure in this American gothic saga of conflicted hesitancies and rivers of tears and sorrows, the drowning man of The Place We Ran From doesn’t ride off into the sunset at peace. He is still running, still searching and hopefully learning how to move beyond all that he can’t leave behind… into the great wide open. (Mom + Pop) –Carrie Alison

  1. [...] Read the review at [...]

  2. [...] through the stories presented in the group’s auspicious and magnificently sublime debut effort, The Place We Ran From. A turbulent love affair gone sour, though not exactly new territory for Lightbody, takes the back [...]

  3. A better review of this album I’ve yet to see. My thoughts exactly, but much better worded. This cd is a real gem.