Published Sep 11, 2018As a musician, Emma Ruth Rundle is full of contradictions. Drawing from elements such as folk, post-rock and drone, her work balances the slow, dark impulses of Chelsea Wolfe and the dreamy folkiness of Marissa Nadler. She has her feet planted firmly in two worlds, but on her latest record, Rundle is able to combine these influences in new and intriguing ways.
While On Dark Horses lacks the punishing nature of Wolfe's catalogue, Rundle doesn't shy away from some of the heavier elements Wolfe's work embraces. On the slower "Dead Set Eyes," she surrounds herself with heavy guitars and cymbals, but her voice still demands your attention. She doesn't let the noise overwhelm her; the arrangements push her along rather than pull her down.
Across her earlier records, Rundle's best work carried itself with a sense of urgency. Even during her slowest and most laidback moments, there was a real sense she didn't want to stay in the same place for too long. During the propulsive "Darkhorse" or the slow-burning closer "You Don't Have to Cry," she's restless and unafraid to push herself to new heights.
Perhaps Rundle's biggest asset is the tenderness she brings with her, as she explores darker, more intimate sides of herself. Even with the record's heavier moments, there's still an element of warmth and sincerity present. While Marked For Death felt more cathartic and Some Heavy Ocean felt more plaintive, there's no denying the emotional heft of On Dark Horses. This is another confident step forward by an artist who continues to dazzle us with new sides of herself. (Sargent House)