Knowing nothing about Ryan Schmidt except that he was in Golden Owl*, I click on over to the Bandcamp page for the White Horse EP and am immediately floored. The finger-picked guitar. The voice with the somber tone and a touch of optimism. The strings. Oh, the strings! I don’t know what I was expecting, but this Nick Drake dream was certainly not it. What a nice surprise.
I’m hooked, and I scroll down to look for credits to see who was responsible for this blind-side assault. OK. Recorded by Rafi Sofer, mastered by Mike Quinn. These guys know their stuff. Wait, strings recorded by Aaron Tap at QuailTop Studios? That could only mean one thing. Yup, string arrangement by Paula Kelley.** Well, there you go. This is how you do it. Write a great song that you can play and sing the hell out of and then surround yourself with some of the best music making people around. “White Horse” is a masterpiece.
The rest of the EP is pretty darn good, too. I love Ryan’s finger picking, which returns on “Go Where You Belong”. The harmony vocals by Tim Gearan and the twelve-string on “November 15” are a nice touch. White Horse EP is a solid effort all around.
Where to get it:
** Aaron Tap and Paula Kelley live out in LA. They used to live in Boston. If you are not familiar with their work, try checking out Paula’s solo albums, Boy Wonder, Betty Goo, Hot Rod, The Weisstronauts or Boston’s best Bee Gees tribute act, The Boy Joys. You won’t be sorry.