I have been writing for Lemonade for over 6 years now. In that time I have been hundreds of artists play live and I have listened to countless hours of music. I have listened to everything from rap to folk and everything in between. It is rare when we stumble across a band that transcends genres as significantly as Black Horse Motel. The 4-piece band, started by drummer Megan Manning, who previously backed a scream-o style rock band, was just looking to start a new project. Never in her wildest dreams did she foresee herself drumming for a harmony-driven folk, Americana band. But the traditional rock percussionist went with it and when keyboardist/cellist Desiree Haney, guitarist Galen Fitzpatrick and fiddler Ryann Lynch were added Black Horse Motel found its calling.
The Philadelphia-based quartet have been continually developing their rockin’, toe-tapping sound through the years, but their turning point was when one of the original band members decided to introduce a mandolin to a rehearsal. It stuck and their style has evolved into this raucous folk creation. And their 5-song EP, Parable, is a testament to their maturing and ever-evolving sound. Black Horse Motel, which was founded mostly by Craigslist ads, starts their EP with the high energy, heart-racing single, “Run, Rabbit, Run”, that is treated with rapid, rock-inspired percussion and Fitzpatrick’s frantic vocals.
And it is not just about the high-tempo tracks either, they can slow it down too like on their heartbreaking ballad, “Bones”. “There was a time when we only had a few songs that were foot stompin’, but those seemed to be what the audience enjoyed the most, so we wrote more of them. But Black Horse Motel will always write some sad, slow jams.” Manning states, “It’s in our blood just as much.”
That is the other thing, Black Horse Motel does not shy away from tough subjects. “Bones” is about abuse and domestic violence, “Dear Mama” is about suicide and their single, “Where The Money Comes From”, is a result of financial desperation.
“There happened to be a significant amount of personal turmoil within the band, much of it centering on relationships and ‘home.’” Manning says, “What makes a home? What makes family? How long do you stand by someone to your own detriment? How do you find the strength to pull yourself up by your bootstraps? Our sound reflects all those different places we come from – folk, bluegrass, classic rock, grunge, trip hop, punk, etc.”
This is one of those unique, outside-the-box bands that understands who they are and what works. Black Horse Hotel steps up and shows us what true creativity can produce with their latest EP, Parable.
The latest EP, Parable, by Black Horse Motel is available now on BandCamp. And check out their live performance of “Where The Money Comes From” on the audition video for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts.
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