Tian Wigmore has got chops. The man behind War Horses has worked as a backing vocalist and touring guitarist with some great Canadian musicians like Big Sugar, The Trews, Tim Chaisson, In Flight Safety, and Andy Brown. After seeing him perform solo, War Horses‘ debut EP followed me around for two solid weeks. It became a constant companion; it lived in my car, it lived in my headphones. We got tight. All because I kept asking the question, ‘What’s missing?’
It’s unfair to judge anything for what it’s not. War Horses is a broody folk-rock medley awash in melancholy. It’s like a long drive across the prairies: there’s plenty to enjoy on the trip, even some sing-along moments, but even though you can see the mountains, you never seem to get there.
What gets carried through in a live performance: Wigmore’s strong vocals, the weight of lyrics that obviously hold a deep meaning for him, and his ability to perform as an acoustic one-man-band, all lose a bit of their oomph in the recording. The first five tracks offer a bleak outlook, not hopeless, but a blue collar lament for small town prairie life, before the aptly named ‘Phoenix’ brings us to the foot hills, and stops. Ultimately it remains subdued; tempered to the slow constant build of a rhythm guitar. The moment you expect that slow rise to crescendo, and soar off in a face-melting solo never comes. The prairies just keep rolling.
Technically, thematically, lyrically, War Horses is solid. If accepted for what it is, it’s enjoyable. But for all the obvious talent and ability it doesn’t live up to its potential.
For more information, check out War Horses’ Facebook page.