The Dad Horse Experience, a name that can be traced back to the roots revival boom that hit the scene hard the better part of a decade ago, has just released his fifth album, Eating Meatballs on a Blood-Stained Mattress in a Huggy Bear Motel, on the Sacred Flu Productions label. Banjoist, multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, and accomplished troubadour, Dad Horse Ottn has composed and executed yet another quality album, this time with material that in some ways rivals his 2008 landmark album Too Close to Heaven.
Dad Horse Ottn, though he hails from Germany, writes and plays a style of music which loosely binds together certain geographically specific components, including the aged, weathered, and slowly splintering planks of America’s Appalachian folk, Southern blues, dark roots, and alternative country, among others. He then boards this makeshift vessel as a spiritual wanderer of this broken world, heavily focused on the sacred yet burdened by the sin of being a man, and sings the soul which hungers for salvation, the mind which treasures peace and knowledge, and the heart which loves, laments, and seeks in turns. As such, he has written and shared songs that have become staples of the current dark roots and gothic country scene, especially early offering “Gates of Heaven.” Since then he has composed and released three well-received full-length albums, a live album from recorded performances at a two venues in Melbourne (with special guest musicians Anto Macaroni and Renato Vacirca), a Best of album (Off Label Records), and a handful of 7″ records on various labels. And now, with his third full-length, the long-titled and remarkably good Eating Meatballs on a Blood-Stained Mattress in a Huggy Bear Motel, The Dad Horse Experience has given fans a eleven more reasons to continue listening.
Eating Meatballs on a Blood-Stained Mattress in a Huggy Bear Motel features what might serve as the title track, “Huggy Bear Motel,” a track in which dark, sparse bits effortlessly transition to strangely upbeat and busy carnivalesque parts. “Will I Be Someone?” deals largely with individuality, life experiences, and the philosophical question marks which accompany them. “Reach Out Your Hand” is a truly impressive reprise of the early Dad Horse Experience song with the same title. For “Under Swine & Bears” Dad Horse Ottn takes the Blind Willie Johnson “Dark Was the Night” approach in the sense that he crafted a dark, moody sonic background, and uses his voice as the most prominent instrument, yet completely without lyrics. The most ambitious song on the album is the seventeen-minute musical odyssey titled “Rain,” in which Dad strums and picks an arrangement of notes and chords to compliment strings of meaningful lyrics that are at one moment spoken, and the next sung.
There are a few different options for this release, including a CD edition with 24-page booklet, heavy 180-gram vinyl LP (in standard black or limited white or mint green), or the luxury edition (bloody amber-colored limited-edition vinyl with CD and other items included). Eating Meatballs on a Blood-Stained Mattress in a Huggy Bear Motel is available for order from The Dad Horse Experience webstore.