©2014 Curlock and Jalaiso Music, BMI

This is Where

 

a Griot band from Senegal
plays in the Villefranche town square
drums fill the arcade
voices fill the air

we need to be
and this is where

walk me down your dirt road
past the neighbor’s fruit trees
tell me all your plans and dreams
the wilder the better
I’m in a mood to believe in something

I can’t get out of my own way
oh, but you lead me to sunlight

your hope is effortless, music in the street
a garden full of vegetables that maybe no one will eat

but you are my level best, my crooked grin
at least

mine is more demanding
like pins in a juggling act
a half dozen in the air, more behind my back
we both know I’ll drop one
and then gravity comes back

I can’t get out of my own way
oh, but you lead me to sunlight

 

Anyone Else

anyone else gets the benefit of your doubt
anyone else could be funny or bright
or at least it might average out
all that kindness I see in you
where does it go when she comes out?
and you’re wearing the light of her presence
like a sour taste in your mouth

anyone else gets patience
room for anyone else to change
the way you speak to her sometimes
anyone else and you would be ashamed
anyone else could be proud or happy for you
or laugh at the jokes you tell, but your
kindness ends when it reaches her
like some kind of magic spell

it wouldn’t take much
one look might be enough
but you’re so careful not to let spill
even one drop from that cup

riches piled at your table
mountains of love and trust
you’ll never want for forgiveness
though there’s been no cause for much
you’re a good human being
with a blind spot, that’s all
I can’t figure out
why anyone else would be beautiful
anyone else gets the benefit of your doubt

 

Slow As You Can

turn off the clocks
stop counting down
to who knows what
stop living in the remainders

this night is yours forever

stop trying to frame every feeling
in lowest common terms
don’t live an abbreviation

this night is yours forever

 

All of My Days

we walked the farthest reaches of the campus
and as we spoke my youthful doubts withdrew
other colors crept onto the canvas
and by the time we reached your door I knew

I want all of my days to be like this one
I want all of my days to be with you

I’m old enough to know romance is passing
time will strip the petals from the bloom
but seventeen years in I am more certain
of everything I thought I saw in you

I want all of my days to be like this one
I want all of my days to be with you

 

Spoken

I was only waiting to be spoken
snapped off like a long losing streak
or poured out in summer’s languid ocean
at the cadence of fields ripening

I was only waiting to be shouted
slurred and staggering in a joyful howl
or trampled in the blossoms of a thousand
simple, silent, daily courtesies

so much she loves me
it’s almost frightening
like the sweetest kiss from
the wildest lightning
so near and strangely
discrete and bravely
it couldn’t help but change me
it couldn’t help but change me

I was only waiting for translation
to the starlings’ abrupt, impossible
language in the air above the station
wheel- and scattering
as a single turn of phrase

so much she loves me
it’s almost frightening
like the sweetest kiss from
the wildest lightning
so near and strangely
distinct and faintly
it couldn’t help but change me
it couldn’t help but change me

 

Glaciers

time to redraw winter’s erasures
turning the ground to see what will grow
in the gravel and sand left by the glaciers
legumes and optimism in fortunate rows

I have you right where I want you now

centuries crawl, continents wander
trees root around in a past buried long ago
and the gravel and sand left by the glaciers
conjugate brambles and exhale a memory
of snow

but I have you right where I want you now

 

The Less Said, the Better

the less said about today, the better
poured ink into a glass of water
you see it changing
but you keep it to yourself
the less said, the better

 

So Happy

the driver ahead of me in the turning lane
sings as she’s waiting for the light to change
and I’m watching her lips in the mirror

she looks so happy, so happy
so happy, so happy

the smile that lights his face
as I sit the children at his knee
says part of him is still inside
and rejoices to remember me
or maybe he just recognized
an old familiar voice

but he’s so happy, so happy
so happy, so happy

all the windows open wide
praying for a breeze
lying wakeful with you in a night
of starlit possibilities
upstairs, at the neighbors’
dogs are whimpering out of key
with the slow gospel harmonies
that leave the park drifting through the trees

so happy, so happy
so happy, so happy

©2014 Curlock and Jalaiso Music, BMI

 

track listing:

 

This is Where
Anyone Else
Slow As You Can
All of My Days
Spoken
Glaciers
The Less Said, the Better
So Happy

 

 

Released 2014. Recorded at Mission Sound in Brooklyn, Parcheesi Studios in Huntington Station, Avion Studio in Coram, and Moxymusic in Los Angeles. Engineered by Bob Stander, Oliver Straus, Jean-Paul Vest, and Jim Watts. Mixed by Jim Watts. Mastered by Gene Paul at G & J Audio.
JEAN-PAUL VEST | guitars, vocals, electronic percussion on Glaciers
BOB STANDER | lead guitar, bass
SHAWN MURRAY | drums, percussion
PEMBERTON ROACH | bass guitar
PAM ARONOFF | backing vocals
JIM WATTS | backing vocals, ebow, omnichord, moog
CHRIS MARSHAK | additional percussion on Spoken

 

 

 

 

"Best Independent Album of 2014" The Daily Vault, Jason Warburg

The thing about songwriters is, the best have mastered not one, but two artistic disciplines.

They are composers, and—again, we’re talking about the best here—they’re also poets. They marry phrases and melodies, tempos and images, in ways that elevate both, turning words and music into a kind of aural painting, a genuinely unique art form that delivers an emotionally rich, multi-dimensional experience to their audience.

And Jean-Paul Vest is one of the best songwriters I've ever encountered.

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Vest named the group that is the vehicle for his music Last Charge Of The Light Horse as a sort of reminder to himself to give every song his all, to leave nothing on the field. The group’s 2005 debut Getaway Car was a masterpiece of intense, incisive roots-rock. Sophomore disc Fractures (2008) somehow dug even deeper, an unflinching examination of self, family, love and time. The Curve EP (2011) was both a detour and a gift, a quintet of experimental tunes featuring loops and electronic percussion that was harder to connect with, yet undeniably compelling.

Nine Kinds Of Happy is the next stop on Vest’s journey, a further examination of the kinds of thorny questions he has looked at before—self-sabotage, emotional manipulation, the enveloping, terrifying thrill of romantic love, and the elusively simple roots of happiness. It finds him emerging from the isolation of the home studio environment that shaped Curve and returning to a full-band format, albeit now with the occasional electronic flourish decorating the fringes. Happy is a relatively brief album, clocking in at just eight songs and 33 minutes, that still emerges feeling complete, a sharply-rendered, self-contained song cycle.

Opener “This Is Where” starts the way every great rock song does, with a bold, compelling conversation between drums and guitar as Vest, lead guitarist Bob Stander, bassist Pemberton Roach and drummer Shawn Murray set the foundation for a propulsive tune powered by an ascending, indelible riff. The lyric is pure poetry, a dream diary that takes you from an ecstatic sensory experience (“A Griot band from Senegal plays in the Villefranche town square / Drums fill the arcade, voices fill the air / We need to be, and this is where”), to a secret-sharing conversation with a loved one, to a wrenching moment of insight: “I can’t get out of my own way / Oh, but you lead me to sunlight.”

“Anyone Else” dials the volume and tempo back, a sharp character sketch over a muted, deceptively gentle beat whose steady intensity pushes Vest’s vocals into an almost hip-hop flow. The lyric finds the narrator observing a character who’s turned cold toward a loved one, marveling at how “You’re wearing the light of her presence like a sour taste in your mouth.” It’s a subtle form of emotional abuse that Vest captures perfectly.

Next up, it feels like there might be a bit of a David Gray influence on “Slow As You Can,” which features a steady, hypnotic rhythm section with murmuring little slide notes decorating each line. Pam Aronoff and Jim Watts’ backing vocals contribute nicely to the track’s haunting, ethereal sound, perfect for a song that’s essentially a two-stanza contemplative prayer, a reminder to slow down and experience the moment you’re living in. The fourth minute features gorgeous interplay between Stander and Vest’s guitars, with one delivering a ringing rhythm part while the other plays long, arcing slide notes above.

The mostly acoustic “All Of My Days” is simply the song that every man who loves his spouse wishes he’d written, a celebration of both the unforgettable moment when love first appears, and the way true love, the real thing, matures and persists.

And then, after the opener’s fierce energy has been spent over the course of three slower, softer songs, “Spoken” throws you right back into the fire. Opening with a circular, instantly memorable riff, it’s a muscular, shimmering study in contrasts, expressing in words and music all of the heat and ferocity and electric charge of new love, the primal sensations it unleashes. “So much she loves me / It’s almost frightening / Like the sweetest kiss from / The wildest lightning” he sings near the end, as Stander erupts into a psychedelic, almost Hendrix-like closing solo. Yeah.

“Glaciers” is where the Curve influence is most felt, a haunting number with subtle electronic accents, a gorgeous vocal arrangement again featuring Aronoff and Watts, and remarkable construction. On the one hand, a pair of stunning verses narrate an earthbound reverie in the garden: “Trees root around in a past buried long ago / And the gravel and sand left by the glaciers / Conjugate brambles and exhale a memory of snow.” In between, though, lurks this sinister chorus, sung with cool, deliberate confidence: “I have you right where I want you now.” So is it a song about the power of natural forces to shape the world around us, or about the emotional traps we set for one another over epochs of time? The answer, it seems, is yes.

Batting seventh, the aptly-named “The Less Said, The Better” is an enigmatic four-line poem, accompanied only by deftly picked electric guitar and Watts' harmonies. Obeying its own advice, a fragmentary lyric suggests secrets held close, to be revealed when this track eventually sets up and bleeds right into the album’s closing number.

“So Happy” caps things off beautifully, launching off of Roach’s thrumming, tension-filled bass line and Murray’s shimmery cymbals as Vest describes his observations of three different kinds of happiness. In the first verse, he sees a woman in the car ahead singing along to the radio, but the music is eerie and unsettled; you get the sense that the narrator is trying to understand and perhaps absorb some of the happiness he sees. In the second verse, Vest’s narrator brings the kids to visit grandpa, who emerges from the fog of dementia long enough to smile at them. After a sharp, economical solo from Stander, the third verse finds Vest in bed late in the evening, “Lying wakeful with you in a night of starlit possibilities” as the noises of the quieting neighborhood deliver a kind of symphony of everyday joy. And then the rhythm section falls back, and a series of gorgeous little plucked electric notes slows and finally halts, as if the narrator has fallen asleep. Sublime.

Musically, Vest’s work is all about tension and release, making a full band setting feel like its natural environment, and specifically one that plays with the economy and precision of this terrific lineup. Lyrically, Vest is all about complexity and texture, the promise and pitfalls of love, the push and pull of relationships with family and friends, and the happiness and hauntedness of everyday experiences of every kind.

What consistently takes his songs to the next level, though, is the remarkable combination of honesty and artistry he achieves. These songs wrench primal emotions from deep inside, never flinching, and do it in words that are always crafted with tremendous care. In the end, though, the truth these songs expose most emphatically is this: Vest is a breathtakingly talented songwriter.

Rating: A

 

"Short but Sweet" Shakefire, AJ Garcia

Everything about Last Charge Of The Light Horse’s “Nine Kinds Of Happy” is a very relaxed and in-depth affair that will give listeners the option to become entranced by the dreamy guitar sounds of the album or transfixed on lead singer Jean Paul-Vest’s deep thinker verses and melancholy vocals. Either way it makes for some fantastic background music or a lulling and haunting visceral experience. 
 
My experience with the album was a Thursday day off where I found myself plopped down on the couch feeling a cold coming on but more than calmed by the very laid back music on this album. Music that didn’t have me reaching for comparisons or thinking to hard on how I would describe what I was hearing. It was just floating guitars, harmonic vocals and impressive drum work. It’s short but sweet at nearly 33 minutes but worth a listen. The band's album can be found streaming on the internet for your perusal. Enjoy.

Grade: A

 

"Nine Kinds of Happy, the new CD by the band Last Charge of the Light Horse, is a rarity these days:
a creative, musically and sonically intriguing album by essentially a conventional rock band."

WVIA, George Graham

For me, one of the thing that has become more difficult to find these days on the music scene is interesting rock. Commercial rock has all become so interchangeable that people have done mash-ups splicing together pieces of pop bands and it all sounds like the same song. The alternative rock scene used to be a haven for musical iconoclasts, but a lot of alternative rock has become as predictable and homogeneous as the commercial side. The roots rockers tend keep it honest but simple. The jam band scene provides an outlet for good musicianship, and there are still some art rock bands around. But there are few groups that I would consider musically creative who work in more or less the context of a rock band with electric guitars and vocals.

I was reminded of that by the album I have for our review this week. It’s by a Long Island based group called Last Charge of the Light Horse, and their CD is titled Nine Kinds of Happy.

Last Charge of the Light Horse started out as a kind of one person band, the creative outlet for singer-songwriter Jean-Paul Vest, and had previously released two albums and an EP over the past decade. Vest organized the project in 2004, and released their first album called Getaway Car the next year, and followed that in 2008 with Fractures and an EP called Curve in 2011. Some of the early projects involved Vent in his home studio multiply overdubbing tracks by himself. But the new album features a regular band who add much to Vest’s musically intriguing songs, with their shifting harmonic textures and often atmospheric quality. Setting Vent apart from others in the arty rock school are his lyrics which are intelligent and creative, showing his literate singer-songwriter side. Vocally, Vest has a distinctive sound. Not quite the folky, he reminds me of Bill Mallonee of the band Vigilantes of Love who also made highly creative music in the context of a rock band.

On this album, Vest is joined by Bob Stander on bass and some lead guitar, Pemberton Roach on bass, and Shawn Murray on drums, plus a couple of guests. The group was apparently assembled previously when Vest was performing the material from his more solitary recordings. It’s a tasteful band that is quite good at sonic textures, even though it’s usually just two guitars, bass and drums. Vest’s songs seem always to have a searching quality to the music, with highly effective shifts between major, minor and modal keys. The sound can have some rock guitar edge, but there is a lot of space in the music and a very appealing atmospheric quality that helps to highlight the lyrics, which are often love songs in a roundabout way.

The CD opens with a piece that immediately marks the band’s distinctive sound. The song This Is Where starts with a line about Senegal as metaphor that sets a somewhat exotic scene, with the music that matches. Jean-Paul Vest’s plaintive-sounding vocals complete the musical picture.

Another excellent piece of lyric writing is the following track, Anyone Else. The relatively short track is basically a love song. With all the music in the market place on this same lyrical theme, it’s had to stand out, but the Last Charge of the Light Horse comes up with an intriguing atmospheric piece.

A bit happier in the musical mood is a song called All of My Days, which is a nice acoustic guitar-driven folky-sounding love song

Further changing the musical texture is a song called Spoken with a rockier sound, but in a 6/8 rhythm. The lyrics, also about finding love are more passionate to go with the music.

Glaciers is another fascinating piece, which gets into the last ice age for its lyrical metaphors.

About the height of the group’s atmospheric rock sound is a fine song called Slow As You Can. Its plaintive sound is built on the nice guitar interplay between Jean-Paul Vest and Bob Stander.

The CD ends with what is a sort of title track So Happy. The piece has a distinctive combination of the atmospheric, plaintive, vaguely psychedelic-influenced sound with lyrics about the happiness of life. It’s a definitely a highlight.


Nine Kinds of Happy the new CD by the band Last Charge of the Light Horse is a rarity these days, a creative, musically and sonically intriguing album by essentially a conventional rock band. They avoid the cliches common in everything from roots rock to alternative to stadium rock. In a way it’s something of a singer-songwriter record, and group leader Jean-Paul Vest is a literate lyric writer and a worthy vocalist for the singer-songwriter role. But on this album, there is a good deal of unity among the band members, and the arrangements, though they are for a conventional guitar-driven rock band, have enough musical substance to make it quite absorbing. There is the old show-biz expression, “Leave ‛em wanting more” and the one drawback of the record is that it’s so short. At only 32 minutes, it does leave one wanting more.

Our grade for sound quality is close to an “A.” The mix is very well done. The use of sonic treatments and reverb ambience is is quite good, and yet the sound has good clarity. The dynamic range, how well the recording handles the differences between loud and soft, while still suffering from some volume compression, is definitely above average in an era when even acoustic records are cranked to be maximally loud all the time.

According to Jean-Paul Vest, the odd name for this group came about in 2003, after the breakup of another previous band. He decided, in his words, “to stop naming the groups and name the journey instead.” He said it was in part a nod to George Harrison’s Dark Horse Records. And indeed up to now, Last Charge has been a project with different musical lineups as Vest went along. This particular incarnation of Last Charge of the Light Horse is a most worthwhile one.

(c) Copyright 2015 George D. Graham. All rights reserved.

 

"A rich and satisfying sound"

Modern Rock Review, Karyn Albano

Based in Long Island, NY, Last Charge of the Light Horse, was formed in 2004 by songwriter Jean-Paul Vest…
 
“This is Where” starts the musical journey on a hopeful note. The song sets the pace for the rest of the album as an adventure into exploring things or a person who inspires you to be your “level best.” The exotic sounding guitars along with the driving bass lines pull the listener into the motion of the song’s rotating progression built on 6/4 beat rhythm. The vocals are laid back but forceful. There is no real lead, just jangly, layered guitars.

“Anyone Else” is about the opposite person. The subject of the first song was an inspiration and brought out the best in the songwriter, the person in this song seems to be a malcontent who can’t see the best in one particular person no matter how hard they try. The lamenting guitars and steady, soft beat add to the melancholy mood of this slow ballad.

In “Slow as You Can”, the shuffle drums betray the tempo for a nice effect. The song is rich and full with minimal lyrics that are drawn out, enhancing the message that every moment should be embraced “stop living in the remainders.” “All of My Days” is as close to a sappy ballad as you will find in this collection. In fact, you may hear this played at a wedding someday. The shuffle drums with brushes set a steady pace for the beautiful guitar.

“Spoken”, with powerful vocals, driving guitars, beautifully harmonized backing vocals by Pam Aronoff, and solid production, is a clear standout. The lyrics create imagery of a feeling that is there just under the surface that is felt but not said out loud. This track also features a great arrangement, use of guitar interludes and some additional, interesting percussion by Chris Marshak.

“Glaciers” is a slow and spacey track with some distant effects that add richness to the mix. The lyrics compare the passage of time to the movement of a glacier along the ground. The lyrics of “The Less Said the Better” are short and to the point as are the two verses of acoustic guitar that are reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot. However, it ends with some jazzy, solo guitar chords, which lead into the final track. The climatic closing track, “So Happy” features a really rapid bass beneath the calm topical elements. The lyrics describe a series of vignettes of people who appear to be happy in a moment; a woman singing to herself in her car, a man bouncing children on his knee and experiencing a breeze on a hot summer night.

Last Charge of the Light Horse has created a collection worthy of reflection on Nine Kinds of Happy. The (ironic quantity of) eight songs each capture a feeling described poetically in a moment or within a series of moments. Though the songs are rather minimalistic, the arrangements, instrumentation and production combine for a rich and satisfying sound.

 

“Nine Kinds of Happy kicks off with ‘This is Where’…and no matter what happens next, you are and will always be in love with this band.”
Skope, RJ Frometa

I am an avid rock music lover, for a really long while I labeled myself as a “Rocker” as the one and only genre I will really be mostly into and the other types of music, well, let’s just say I barely paid attention to them – of course, as I grew up and started listening to other music due to my work in a magazine, etc. that slowly started to change and now I consider myself an open mind musician. However, here’s the thing I am pretty sure many reading this will agree with me: Rock music is in a delicate, comatose state – it’s not dead, but in my opinion it has been losing its touch and just like a fierce, brave soldier who enters in depression, it’s no longer what it used to be. So whenever I get the chance to listen a band that doesn’t sound like nothing on both the indie and mainstream radio or media, a light shows up at the end of the tunnel.

Last Charge of the Light Horse new album Nine Kinds of Happy kicks off with “This is Where” and immediately you hear that very Midwestern guitar riff it hooks you up and no matter what happens next, you are and will always be in love with this band. As that wasn’t not awesome enough, vocalist particular voice reminiscent of Weird Al, Ben Gibbard, and even Brian Molko, fits so well with the music. Now, this is not a band that follows the same tempo, a great example is the following track “Anyone Else” which isn’t as exciting and cool as the previous song but isn’t disappointing neither and it works as a perfect intro for the haunting ¨Slow As You Can¨ reminiscent of Porcupine Tree, it may have a slow tempo but it’s far from being boring and keeps the group in the right track. As you listen through the record, if you don’t help but to fall in love with this band then there’s something REALLY wrong with your head and perhaps you might consider yourself lock in a mental hospital.

The thing that makes this band so interesting it’s that different to other rock band that think in order to be exciting and get behind people’s skin you need to be loud and wild, but there’s everyone make a mistake and this band works as a perfect example of why is that. The music is insane even though you will not hear a single scream from the vocalist and double pedals by the drummer or high pitch 3 minutes solos.

Overall, if you are someone that’s losing its faith in music and the industry, then my recommendation for you is to give a listen to this band and you will see how that will immediately change. This is one of those groups you are not sure why, but they have some special that makes them standout from anything not only from their time but what came before it.
Rating 9.5/10

 

“I just can’t stop hitting the repeat button.”
Musicexistence.com, Michelle Lopez

Last Charge of the Light Horse is a New York based group formed in 2004 by singer Jean-Paul Vest. The group has remained in constant motion for years and they don’t ever plan on quitting. This group is never one to stick to the same style. They’re always changing it up and they’ll always be impressing their fans. The group has released two albums, one single, and one EP, gaining them mention in several “Best of the Year” lists and a lot of heavy rotation on college radio stations, where they charted as high as #1 on stations around the country.

Last Charge has an amazing selection of songs on their new album New Kinds Of Happy, but these three are the ones that stood out to me the most, and here is why:

“This Is Where,” is such a spunky tune. I’m not even sure what genre to classify it as. It sounds modern, but country. There are many things about this track that draw me to it, and one of those is the background music. It even sounds a bit Bollywood at times. I love the diversity in this track, and it will appeal to many different types of listeners and that’s where Large Charge will gain exposure.

“Anyone Else,” is slow and easy-going tune. I really favor this one because it’s just so calming. It’s a song I would play on repeat when I’m going to sleep. It’s so beautiful and the bongo drums in the background give it the perfect amount of spunk.

“Slow as You Can,” has more guitar than the other two tracks and I really like it. It’s such a cool rhythm and it makes me want to keep listening. Vest’s vocals blend beautifully with the soft guitar riffs and the drums. It sounds so mysterious and I just can’t stop hitting the repeat button. This is definitely my favorite track on the album.

Last Charge of the Light Horse has such a calming vibe and I really enjoy it. This is truly “feel good” music and it makes me smile. I really see the potential in this group, and I believe they will definitely get somewhere in the industry if they keep it up. I hope to see them succeed and continue on the path they are on.

 

“It feels real and from the heart.”
Indie Music Reviews, Monty Zike

Last Charge of the Light Horse isn’t a new band. The musicians have been forging a unique legacy since emerging on the scene in 2005 with their flagship recording Getaway Car. Since then they have been busy refining their chops with plenty of live shows, and releasing a second disc, Fractures in 2008. Masterminded by guitarist/lyricist/vocalist Jean-Paul Vest, the unit is rounded out by lead guitarist Bob Stander, drummer Shawn Murray and bassist Pemberton Roach. On the group’s third album, Nine Kinds of Happy, the musicians engage in a collaborative, meditative jam session which updates the country n’ blues sounds of yore into an exciting, locked on boogie.

A lot of artists have trouble making albums that flow, instead cobbling together a collection of disconnected songs. Flow isn’t a problem with these compositions. “This is where” relishes harmony, unison and progression. Vest’s powerful, quavering voice embodies the desert; vast, open and mystical as he devises rustic imagery, “Walk me down your dirt road, past the neighbor’s fruit trees, tell me all of your plans and dream, the wilder the better,” he muses over a rugged, lively backbeat. Singer Pam Aronoff along with the rest of the band covers Jean-Paul with expansive, harmonic back-ups as the rising tide of guitar rock reaches numerous apexes both scenic and sonic.

Not content to keep mood and mode singular, the majority of the album delves into inviting, melodic recesses buried deep within the mind. It’s not “soft rock” or adult contemporary fare; on the contrary the tuneful, somber tracks shake and shimmy with a gravelly, Earthy vibration. Take for example, “Anyone Else,” which could easily have turned out like any other love song. It doesn’t turn out that because the playing is authentic, real and hairy around the neck.  The alternating lead/slide guitar melodies spread atop a steady, roving percussiveness makes the song a must-play during a night-time drive when the mind and spirit are running wild and free in the playful paranoia of imagination. It’s hard to explain just how tightly tethered the music is to the glory days when songwriting involved actual instrumentation and not computers. This isn’t simply a “roots rock” rehash, but the roots themselves. The very marrow of the sound if you will.

Last Charge of the Light Horse make the magic seem effortless, breezing their way through the guitar-oriented, soul-caressing sweet stuff like, “All of my Days” and “The Less Said, The Better,” heading right into the maw of the maelstrom on arena ready, hot-blooded rocker, “Spoken” and finding the golden chalice of light/heavy tinges on the triumphant, “Glaciers.”  They never stop to waste time, and the production textures leave no player lost in a bad mix.  If you would have told me this record came out thirty or more years ago, I wouldn’t have been surprised. They pull all of this off without sounding retro for retro’s sake. It feels real and from the heart.

Nine Kinds of Happy should appeal to many fans out there. I could see everyone from Neil Young worshippers to the diehards that support the often overlooked The Brandos getting into this album.  Whether you are 16 years old or 60, there is a very good chance you will be able to appreciate the work done by Last Charge of the Light Horse.
Rating:  9/10

 

“…this is a band with an unique voice. The songwriter at the center of this experience, Jean-Paul Vest, has boundless promise as a writer and interpreter of his own songs.”
Bandblurb.com, Joshua Stryde

The commercial decline of guitar-driven music over the last twenty years hasn’t stopped young performers from forming bands. While some forms, such as blues-rock, have disappeared completely from the mainstream, some forms still have a certain amount of appeal thanks to their place in history. Last Charge of the Light Horse embraces the jangling guitars, introspective lyrics, and emotional vocals of late 80’s/90’s indie rock. Sensitive songwriting, detailed production, and a high level of musicianship driving tight band interplay distinguish their album Nine Kinds of Happy.

“This Is Where” is an ideal opener. Shawn Murray’s powerful drumming introduces the song before the guitars come in. This band takes a unified approach to its guitar parts. The two guitarists, vocalist/songwriter Jean-Paul Vest and lead guitarist Bob Stander, aim towards complimenting what their six-string partner plays instead of relying heavily on counterpoint. Vest’s lyrics are outstanding and filled with distinctive details that mark it as a true original. Like the opener, “Slow As Your Can” begins with Murray’s drums plodding away with a muscular swing. He sets a pulse for the entire song that gives its ghostly melody a chance to hook into a listener’s consciousness. By the third song, it is clear the band are pursuing an atmospheric, layered sound that works particularly well on this song.

Problems grow deeper into the album. When “Spoken” opens with another slow instrumental crawl, many will wonder if the assertiveness of the album’s opener is an anomaly. This song has an interesting weave of sound capable of holding your attention, but the lack of overall variation is a weakness. This isn’t an issue of the band approaching these songs as vehicles for Vest’s poetry instead of actual musical works. Instead, the impression it may leave listeners with is that Last Charge of the Light Horse have grown too comfortable writing certain types of songs. The lyrics are never an issue and “Spoken” joins the opener as perhaps the best examples of Vest’s considerable writing talent.

“The Less Said, The Better” is a languid reflection on conflict. The band is masters of invoking mood in music and the relatively brief duration of this is no obstacle. One strength of their approach is that the music is always cinematic enough to stand on its own when Vest’s lyrics tell no particular story.  There’s a lot of nuance in the album’s closer “So Happy”. Vest’s careful phrasing suggests that there are implied layers to the lyrics not implicit in a surface reading. Inventive bass playing and percussion hold the track down allowing the guitars to leave an impressionistic mark.

This is an important album and has much to recommend it, but the uneven qualities are likely lingering problems that future releases will have to address. Let there be no doubt though – this is a band with an unique voice. The songwriter at the center of this experience, Jean-Paul Vest, has boundless promise as a writer and interpreter of his own songs. Last Charge of the Light Horse will be with us for some time to come and music fans are better for it.
8/10 Stars

 

“If deep rock n’ roll is your passion, Nine Kinds of Happy will fulfill your hunger.”
Rocknrollview.com, Robert Fulford

Formed in Coram, New York, Last Charge of the Light Horse is an interesting musical proposition. Both musically and lyrically, it’s something new and something old; the place where country-tinged guitar licks and indie pop songwriting collide with lyrics both rustic and current.  Spearheaded by vocalist/guitarist Jean-Paul Vest, the quartet comes bullrushing out of the gate with “This Is Where,” which mingles riffs both acoustic and electric strings against hard-riding snare/tom flux while Vest sings his heart out like a deeper, more baritone Neil Young.  In fact Young’s music along with some of the harmony touches of the Outlaws and the spaghetti western, dustbowl rock of Son Volt are valid points of reference in this high noon showdown of an opener.

If “This Is Where” is like a blazing gunfight, “Anyone Else” ushers in the cool of sundown and beckons for last call at the saloon.  This could be in the soundtrack of an old cowboy movie love scene with Jean-Paul’s tender croons serenading the accompany bongo percussion, acoustic guitars and somnolent slide guitars. “Slow as you can” loads up the stagecoach with hoof to the ground, galloping beats and gleaming guitar-work that stride between rock and poignant romanticism. Distortion is used sparingly and effectively, creating an atmospheric element reminiscent to some of Sergio Leone’s finest work. If pop country radio still had an affinity for good music they would certainly spin, “All Of My Days,” a darkly moving tale of changing seasons and adolescent love with more autumnal slide guitar backing Vest’s soothing acoustic.

The band comes off as a harder version of Son Volt on the riffed-up mid-tempo groover, “Spoken.”  It’s in these instances that the band could easily stand shoulder to shoulder with the southern rock greats on classic FM radio. The vocals whip from soft to surly as does the music, the bass in particular creeping out of the guitar density for a meaty, forward thrust. Ending on a climactic note, a white hot solo sends the song into a smoky, oil-spitting fit full of old school, guitar god aggression. You can imagine Eastwood facing off against Van Cleef in the simultaneously smoldering and smashing, “Glaciers.”  The softer puts put you under the hypnotist’s pendulum, but the electric outbursts really lay the law down in Dodge City. 

Rounding out this airtight record, “The Less Said, The Better” gives ballad-y break that’s shot into Swiss cheese thanks to the throttling rock of “So Happy,” the latter of which draws the curtain to a standing ovation.

If deep rock n’ roll is your passion, Nine Kinds of Happy will fulfill your hunger. The way Vest and the boys craft rock, country, movie scores and pop into a meaningful whole is no ordinary feat. Every song is richly layered and weaved together in a way that should be a model for what band chemistry is all about. If Last Charge of the Light Horse catches the right breaks in an increasingly fickle industry, there’s absolutely no good reason they shouldn’t be huge. This release is a treasured antiquity for the hardened musical connoisseurs out there.
Rating:  9/10

 

“When [Vest] and his band are rocking at maximum capacity there is little that can stop them.”
Allwhatsrock.com, Jay Snyder

Making a strong case of Jean-Paul Vest’s talents as a singer/songwriter, Last Charge of the Light Horse is a four piece band that sounds like Texas but is based out of New York. These concrete cowboys are difficult to pin down on their debut romp Nine Kinds of Happy.  There is no doubt that the mix is an eclectic one, straddling the genre saddle for all it’s worth. It’s not too hard on the ears, and can even rock out here and there, but an overload of soft numbers detracts from what could have been a really invigorating listen. Still, the good outweighs the bad and there is an outpour of emotion in the group’s canyon wide instrumentals.

The tougher, leathery songs seem to make the most impact.  “This Is Where” is all about the might of the rhythm section’s lead dynamics, allowing the guitars to paint mood upon the canvas.  Electric, slide and acoustic guitars never overpower the craggy, precarious drumming style and the swanky lowdown bass.  Everything is held together by the big fat bottom, leaving Jean-Paul Vest to coil around the melody with his strong set of singing pipes.  They employ even more well-dammed ballast on mid album attack of “Spoken” which is a definite candidate for standout track.  They bring the rock in spades, and the abrasive guitar solos chained to a 70s megahit structure spew more fiery brimstone that a pulpit crazy preacher.  Even closer the hazy, ethereal “So Happy” manages to tussle with the listener’s mettle and lunge for the throat thanks to the vibrant rhythms which provide the vocals and guitars a lot of legroom to do what they want, how they want. 

With such catchy, hooks the album turns to a bit of a fizzle whenever it becomes apparent that 5 of the 8 tunes barely rise above a whisper.  A few arrangements come off as really pretty filler lacking a verse or chorus to remember, for example “Slow as you can” never makes good on the promise the drums and bass interplay offers.  The guitar slides, most likely produced on a lap steel are succulent, but the lead element never reaches a pleasing melodic climax, leaving the audience low instead of high.  It’s not the only misstep as “All of my Days” and “The Less Said, the Better” never seem to capitalize on their strengths, equating to nothing more than solid love songs without a lot of replay value.  Fortunately, the remaining tracks are enriched by a myriad of dusky instrumental work that pays special attention to Vest’s gripping voice and the dazzling shades of acoustic/slide guitar that dims the mood in all of the right places. 

Jean-Paul Vest has been making music since 2004, and it shows.  The writing on this album for the most part illustrates a veteran musician who has been in the game for over a decade honing his craft.  When he and his band are rocking at maximum capacity there is little that can stop them.  They aren’t bad at working the ballads either, although the sheer bias towards the mellow pop deflates a bit of the momentum.  Overall, this is a very strong outing with room for improvement. 
Rating:  7/10

 

“…a rare blend of musical harmony”
Gashouseradio.com, Michael Rand

In the latest album by songwriter Jean-Paul Vest, entitled Nine Kinds of Happy, left me wondering if there was any kind of happy. Indeed happiness is open to interpretation, and Jean-Paul’s band, Last Charge of the Light Horse’s newest album rotates a very laid back easy going set of vocals, and a in-distinctive blend of instruments. The dreamy layers leave nothing differentiable, but somehow as an adult alternative sound it works. As each and every layer was purposefully set to compliment the other layer, a rare blend of musical harmony is bestowed. Without a doubt by track number four, All of My Days, I could engage my thinking into the understanding of Nine Kinds of Happy. The latest album, All of My Days, placed me into thought of connective stops along this life’s journey in happiness. Glaciers, the longest track on the album, caught my attention, as a tribute to life and living. The Less Said the Better plays a reminiscent Spanish overtone guitar that is enigmatically stunning as an opening to the song. So Happy, we find as the last track on the album, seems to be summation of Nine Kinds of Happy. We were given eight songs, but within the title we are told there are nine, so perhaps Jean-Paul is leaving the ninth for us to find. Each track gives the listener a glimpse into possible situations of happiness, yet again the blend of nothing reaching out to grab the ear lends this album to be submitted to a very easy going afternoon. Harmonious, soft spoken, casual listening music that brings a solace of comfort. A quiet spot of musicianship that breathes in and out with the sounds of contentment. Nine Kinds of Happy delivers it’s title plays with some experimental sounds, brings notes of progressive, leaves the air clearer, relaxed, and thoughtful.

 

“Damn, Vest was made for this craft. Nine Kinds of Happy is the type of collection you wish your favorite singers would put out before they succumbed to the million dollar paycheck.”
Indiemunity.com, Erman Baradi

Nine Kinds of Happy is a statement made with, well, ambitiously just eight tracks. What that statement is really may take another listen or two. Last Charge of Light Horse’s latest release gathers songwriter and frontman Jean-Paul Vest, lead guitar Bob Stander, bassist Pemberton Roach, and percussionist Shawn Murray. Here, they are poets who ponder being versions of whoever they think they are. They pull this off in the least pretentious way possible. Call that talent.

There is something about the album’s overall simplicity that really highlights the lyrics and Vest’s but that’s alright as the main focus for Last Charge is storytelling. Take “Anything Else” for example. It is sleepy in the way it slugs along like a snail on concrete. For some, it may be dismal, but artists you don’t get more expressive than that. The singer is in a reflective state, he articulates: “Anyone else could be proud or happy for you or laugh at the jokes you tell/ But your kindness ends when it reaches her like some kind of magic spell.” Damn, Vest was made for this craft. Nine Kinds of Happy is the type of collection you wish your favorite singers would put out before they succumbed to the million dollar paycheck.

“All of My Days” is probably the most radio-worthy track on the record, likely on adult contemporary. It’s also the record's shortest lyrically. Its percussion and guitar carry a repeating pattern that elevates Vest’s sweeping image of romance: “We walked the farthest reaches of the campus and as we spoke my youthful doubts withdrew/ Other colors crept onto the canvas and by the time we reached your door I knew.” Whether it’s one-sided love, man stuck in the friend zone who has feelings for his bestie, or a time-constrained college romance, these words stick to the bone. It’s a walk to the door we all can relate to enormously.

My favorite lyrics are in “Spoken,” which also has Vest at his best vocally, this time belting in contrast to the consistent evenness of his voice on other songs. We also hear more dynamics from the bandmates. My favorite line is about a girl being in love with Vest to the point it scares him. Love is a double-edged sword: alluring and dangerous at the same time. Maybe he doesn’t think too highly of himself to feel like he deserves love, but hey, it makes for great material.

Eight tracks is enough to out-do 13-track albums with half the vulnerability and honesty Vest and the boys portray with Nine Kinds of Happy.

 

“This eight-song collection, however, balances lyrical complexity with considerable musical skill and the production surrounds the track with an elegiac, dreamlike atmosphere.”
Penweb, Jason Hillenburg

Nine Kinds of Happy, the [third] full-length release from New York natives Last Charge of the Light Horse, is a stylish and sophisticated release. Despite the band configuration, this is an album firmly grounded in the singer/songwriter tradition, but labels are misleading. Many such releases enjoy lyrical depth, but the music is often gets short shrift and veers into ornamentation. This eight-song collection, however, balances lyrical complexity with considerable musical skill and the production surrounds the track with an elegiac, dreamlike atmosphere.

The band opens with the album’s strongest rock track, “This Is Where”. The music’s staggered stride is the centerpiece of an inventive arrangement, but it is equally compelling to hear how much the band swings without sacrificing a sliver of tightness. Jean Paul Vest’s vocals are another highlight.

The sound of his voice falls somewhere between Lou Reed’s sharp, unsentimental edge and a young Bob Dylan’s nasal snarl, but even if it isn’t a pop-ready voice, the band isn’t aiming for that anyway. The energy, economy, and specific detail in the lyrics matches the layered musical approach – guitars punctuate and accompany rather than lead and the rhythm section’s solid work lends everything an additional gravitas. If this sounds like important work, do not second-guess that thought. “This Is Where” is a natural fit for the opening slot and announces the band with verve and grit.

The chiming guitars and restless, understated percussion of “Anyone Else” frames a Leonard Cohen-esque lyric. Vest, obviously, has a gift for turning a phrase, but his conventional treatment of well-worn subject matter is a steep drop in quality from the opener’s words. The music has a gossamer-like quality, as if invoking a fragile but studied calm allowing him to deliver the rather biting lyrics without tapping into their latent rage, and this striking contrast redeems any weakness.

“Slow As You Can” defines itself early on with drummer Shawn Murphy’s stuttering shuffle and a slow-moving swell of keyboards buttressing the guitar. The song has a decidedly orchestrated vibe and its effects are incremental, but the dreamlike melancholy of the music will bore few listeners.

It concludes with Bob Standers’ beautifully emotive lead guitar work. The rolling shuffle of “Spoken” is a dramatic vehicle for another vivid lyric. Like the earlier track, “Anyone Else”, the music simmers like its itching to overflow its relatively docile borders and the tension between subject and delivery give the arrangement continuous energy. The payoff comes with another superb and gritty solo from lead guitarist Stander.

A strong guitar melody carries “The Less Said, The Better” musically and the brief lyric accomplishes much thanks to its strong imagery. This is songwriting rarely, if ever, interested in spelling things out for the listener, but unlike lyricists who aim at affecting the listener through suggestion, Vest’s method recalls a poet’s focus on the concrete and seldom falls into the abstract. If his lyrics are inaccessible, and they sometimes are, he never neglects providing us with markers illuminating his path without turning heavy-handed or obvious.

While Last Charge of the Light Horse is mining well-worn veins in popular music, Vest’s songwriting is a wildcard for an otherwise sharp, muscular band that elevates much several notches above the routine. There is a sense of possibilities coalescing here as much of Vest’s writing pushes beyond rehashed Dylan/Cohen pastiches and has discovered a literary voice with an unique focus and frame of reference.
8/10 Stars

 

“This is an album for those who want to put it on, close their eyes and let the music simply wash over them.”
Vents magazine, Russell Hughes

Last Charge of the Light Horse are an experienced band now, and Nine Kinds of Happy is their fourth release. Jean-Paul Vest leads the group in every sense of the word, writing the songs, singing them and playing the guitar.

He’s mastered the art of singing from experience – indeed many of his tunes are written in the first person. The good thing about experience, as well, is that it gives him a larger amount of material to choose from. Younger artists can fall down the trap of writing about the things they know about, which is basically limited to love, alcohol and sex. Vest has more to than that – and Nine Kinds of Happy tackles subjects as diverse as the terror of love, being manipulated and self-destruction.

His music is just as diverse. It mixes different guitar genres with a flowing freedom that takes the listener, in twists and turns, through the eight songs on Last Charge of the Light Horse. Spoken could be taken off a Wishbone Ash track with its bending guitar riff at the end that both melts your face and covers it with kisses while Glaciers sounds like the type of song Jimi Hendrix might play to a child he was trying to send to sleep with a guitar.
So Happy, the last song on the album, has almost a Billy Corgan inspired feel – like everything being done, played and sung is a homage and a pat on the back to himself, like Vest is saying ‘well done, I’ve done it.’

Ever song tries to paint a picture in your mind, and often it succeeds. Vest’s voice carries clear and focused above the music, at times it is the main focus of the record, not the music – which is simply put into the category of ‘easy listening background music.’

This album is the type of easy listening fare that has granted Lambchop all the success that he currently is enjoying. Charge of the Light Horse doesn’t have the humour that its creator Kurt Wagner puts into the music – but the style is certainly similar in some aspects.

Nine Kinds of Happy contains some little musical surprises dotted around the short, 33 minute album – from the long instrumental periods to the before-mentioned guitar licks. This is an album those interested in something different. This is an album for those who want to put it on, close their eyes and let the music simply wash over them.

 

“I really like this set, and the diversity really works for it.”
Music Street Journal, G. W. Hill

There is quite a bit of roots music built into this. It’s closer to folk music than just about anything else – at least consistently. A lot of this makes me think of Arlo Guthrie at times. That’s a good thing, too. The thing is, it also borders on stuff like Radiohead and Porcupine Tree here are there. I really like this set, and the diversity really works for it.


This Is Where
On the one hand, this is sort of a standard alternative rock meets folk rock song. The thing is, it’s so much more than that. The world music elements and extra layers of sound bring a drama and majesty here that’s amazing. The vocals for some reason make me think a little bit of a lower register version of Arlo Guthrie. That’s a great thing as far as I’m concerned. So is this song. It’s one of the best things I’ve heard in a while. I love it.


Anyone Else
The same folk sound permeates this. It’s dark and dreamy. It’s a bit depressing. It’s very mellow. It’s not as powerful as the opener, but it’s still pretty good. I love the instrumental section that almost pulls this toward mellow progressive rock in some ways.


Slow as You Can
This really makes me think a lot of things like Radiohead and Porcupine Tree. It’s another dreamy and slow cut. It’s probably somewhere in the middle of the first song and the second one. It’s also quite strong.


All of My Days
I can make out that Arlo Guthrie thing on this song, too. It’s got a lot more folk in it than some of the other music does. It’s also one of the most compelling pieces here. It’s not as strong as the opener, but it’s close. It’s got a great positive lyrical message, too.


Spoken
With more of a rocking sound, this even has some hints of country music in the mix. It’s got some of that Radiohead thing going on, too. The dreamy, soaring sections are great, too. It’s not my favorite song on the disc, but it’s a standout.


Glaciers
This is more energized, but still dreamy in a lot of ways. It’s closer to the pure alternative rock end of the spectrum. It’s good, but not a standout.


The Less Said, The Better
The guitar on this is intricate. It’s the mellowest song here, though. It’s a moody ballad type piece.


So Happy
Some of the guitar over the top of the later sections on this makes me think of Robert Fripp. The cut is much more of a prog rock meets alternative thing. It’s definitely one of the highlights of the set, bringing variety and drama. It wanders into definite space music at the end.