Written by Chris Panico
The Horse Comanche is a testament to the creative breadth and versatility that is Chadwick Stokes. Known for his famously independent group Dispatch and his more socially-outspoken project State Radio, Stokes has been around the scene for awhile now. Throughout the years the Boston native has developed a clearly defined musical identity. With the release of his new solo record Chadwick Stokes continues to refine himself and his music with as much creativity as ever.
From top to bottom the album is a lesson in musical range. Seemingly immune to same-song-syndrome, every single track on The Horse Comanche is notably different from the others. “Our Lives Our Time” for example, is made from the stuff that was so iconic for Dispatch; very dense, lyrical verses, almost to the point of being run on sentences. Chadwick strings the words together with the same rhythmic attitude of older songs like “The General.”
Other songs from Comanche take much farther departures. Chadwick delves into some lo-fi electronic sounds to glue together “Mother Maple”. The phrases of the verse have a way of working itself around the bar lines to emulate the tagline “you run and you run and you run.”
Far and away the best tune from the album is Chadwick’s reflective “New Haven.” There’s an air of Paul Simon about the song, owing to the generous dose of poetry in the lyrics. Vivid images like “the shadow of teardrops fall down your face” are countered by the simple yet evocative refrain of “I want to be with you.”
All and all, The Horse Comanche is a top notch album. Avoiding the pitfalls many artists are victim to (being repetitive, formulaic, cheesy, etc), Chadwick Stokes opts instead to use his creative nature to develop as many new and interesting ideas as possible.