Origins is a recurring new music feature that tasks an artist with dissecting the influences behind their latest track.
On September 14th, Emma Ruth Rundle, the prolific singer/songwriter you may recognize from The Nocturnes, Red Sparowes, and Marriages, will release On Dark Horses, the follow-up to last year’s The Time Between Us EP. Rundle’s previously dropped album opener “Fever Dreams”, and today she shares its follow-up, the thunderingly ominous “Darkhorse”.
As the titles imply, horses worked their way not just into “Darkhorse”, but also the record itself. “They’re powerful and beautiful yet not free really,” she said in a press release. “So the dark horse works for me in a visual way, as a representation of a contained force that will win the race or exceed the expectation of society and self.” She expanded on that sentiment to Consequence of Sound, saying of her new track,
“‘Darkhorse’ was one of the first songs that sprung forth in writing the album and became a focal point, as well as an emotional reference, for the rest of the record, hence the album title. It is written from the perspective of one sibling singing to another. The lyrics describe not just the younger sister, but both sisters struggling to overcome their shared traumatic past, with the chorus exclaiming a sense of pride in having the chance and ability to override the unlucky odds.”
A thoughtful bit of gothic folk, the cut itself punctuates its minor chords with electric currents, lacing Rundle’s sumptuous, wounded vocals with some added emotional heft. “In the wake of weak beginnings, we can still stand high,” she sings, a lyric that speaks to the album’s larger themes about persevering in the wake of a great trauma.
Hear it below, and pre-order On Dark Horses here.
Offering more insight into the Origins of her new single, Rundle was kind enough to share the songs that directly inspired the construction “Darkhorse”, as well as the ways in which her own past informs her work. Check it out below.
Sun Kil Moon — “Heron Blue”:
“Darkhorse” was initially written on a classical guitar with the picking pattern in 7/4 becoming an ostenado over which the vocal melody was able to unfold. The style of verse was largely inspired by Mark Kozelek’s writing/playing and I think “Heron Blue” is a perfect example of that. He uses the stark, somber, and repetitive guitar to serve as a compelling foundation for his mournful singing. His music has been a huge influence on me since the release of Ghost of the Great Highway but especially in songs like “Heron Blue” and all the work on Admiral Fell Promises, which is largely the classical guitar vocal.
Tori Amos — “Marianne”:
I have always been a devoted fan of Tori’s and, while writing this record, I revisited Boys For Pele. Tori has made it okay for me, as a woman, to sing about deeply personal and extreme subjects. She has always been on the forefront of women’s issues. On BFP and in “Marianne” she shines as a master in teasing out a sense of desperation that still moves me decades later. This is a song that exemplifies her abilities; spinning a deeply moving portrait, from her perspective, of the life and struggle of another woman who was simply defeated by herself in the end.
Chris Whitley — “Hotel Vast Horizon”:
Chris Whitley is a patron saint for me. This man is/was a holy saint of self-sacrifice and humility whose guitar playing was as unique as anything could ever be. He is an artist that I look to a lot when I feel lost, a beacon of something raw and real. The thing about this song that made it’s way into “Darkhorse” was the idea of the “vast horizon” as a destination. The lyric “dark water horizon” indirectly references this song and warns of an unending future, consumed by a place, an ocean of nebulous trouble.
This is the part of writing that becomes tricky for me. It is about revealing enough of the story to feel catharsis without fully exposing myself or anyone else. Most of my music deals with, and strives to make sense of, my own life and past, but I’d rather not share specifics. I think its safe to say I have a family situation that will continue to inform my music. The writing process is sometimes an effort to unravel addiction and metal illness issues, and “Darkhorse”, for me, is one of those but has a hopeful intention and message, if you will.
Rundle will also be hitting the road this fall for an epic world tour that will take her throughout North America, Europe, and the UK across a four-month span. See her full itinerary below.
Emma Ruth Rundle 2018 Tour Dates:
09/08 – Chicago, IL @ Ars Memoria *
09/15 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar +
09/16 – Detroit, MI @ El Club +
09/17 – Toronto, ON @ Sneaky Dee’s +
09/19 – Portsmouth, NH @ The Press Room +
09/20 – Allston, MA @ Great Scott +
09/21 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus +
09/22 – Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA +
09/23 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery +
09/24 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe +
09/25 – Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle +
09/27 – Davenport, IA @ Figge Art Museum / All Senses Festival
09/28 – Rock Island, IL @ Rock Island Brewing Co.
10/06 – Lille, FR @ Aeronof +
10/07 – Colmar, FR @ Grillen +
10/09 – Bermeo, ES @ Beleza Malandra Ateneo Kulturala +
10/10 – Oviedo, ES @ Lata de Zinc +
10/11 – Porto, PT @ Passos Emanuel +
10/12 – Lisbon, PT @ Music Box +
10/13 – Madrid, SP @ Change +
10/14 – Barcelona, SP @ AMFest 2018
10/16 – Marseille, FR @ Le Molotov +
10/17 – Zurich, CH @ Rote Fabrik +
10/18 – Leipzig, DE @ UT Connewitz +
10/19 – Prague, CZ @ Klub 007 +
10/20 – Koln, DE @ Gebaude 9 +
10/21 – Munchen, DE @ Milla +
10/23 – Berlin, DE @ Bi Nuu +
10/24 – Hamburg, DE @ Hafenklang +
10/25 – Malmo, SE @ Plan B +
10/26 – Oslo, NO @ BLA +
10/27 – Stockholm, SE @ Strindbergs Intima +
10/28 – Gothenborg, SE @ Skjul Fyra Sex/Skjulet +
10/29 – Copenhagen, DK @ Hotel Cecil +
10/31 – Rotterdam, NL @ Rotown +
11/01 – Groningen, NL @ Vera +
11/02 – Paris, FR @ Petit Bain +
11/03 – Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen +
11/04 – Bristol, UK @ Rough Trade +
11/06 – Glasgow, UK @ Stereo +
11/07 – Newcastle, UK @ Th Cluny +
11/08 – London, UK @ Oslo +
11/09 – Kortijk, BEL @ Sonic City Festival
11/10 – Antwerp, BEL @ Trix +
11/30 – Nashville, TN @ The High Watt +
12/01 – Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn +
12/03 – Dallas, TX @ Double Wide +
12/04 – Austin, TX @ Barracuda +
12/06 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sister +
12/07 – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar +
12/09 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo +
12/10 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop +
12/12 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios +
12/13 – Seattle, WA @ Barboza +
12/15 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court +
12/16 – Denver, CO @ Lost Lake +
12/17 – Kansas City, MO @ The Riot Room +
* = Emma Ruth Rundle solo gallery show and On Dark Horses listening party
+ = w/ Jaye Jayle