By Jackie Morris

Show-Ponies-Were-Not-Lost-275When an album is financed entirely by crowdsourcing – as is We’re Not Lost, the newest album by The Show Ponies -- one thing should be apparent: this rootsy, folk-rock group is the real deal, with immediate, widespread appeal.

So immediately appealing, in fact, that they completed this CD within a year of finishing their last album, Here We Are! So tight and dynamic – perfectly harnessing youthful raw energy with polished musicianship – that it’s hard to believe this band has only been together since 2011.

Featuring all-original songs, The Show Ponies have literally galloped into the Americana indie arena with a fast-paced sound, evoking overtones of bluegrass and old time country music, and adding a dynamic, percussive edge. Led by songwriting collaborators Andi Carder (lead vocals and guitar) and Clayton Chaney (lead vocals and bass), the five Ponies also include three classically-trained musicians. They are: award-winning fiddler, Philip Glenn…innovative drummer, Kevin Brown…and the group’s original producer, Jason Harris, on banjo, guitar and vocals. We’re Not Lost also features guest artists Sarah McGrath on cello and David Burrows on double bass.

To say that each one of these musicians is outstanding is an understatement. But for me, what truly carries these songs is the combination of Andi Carder’s voice with that of Clayton Chaney. Both are strong, versatile vocalists, able to handle a wide range of moods, from comic to contemplative, from sorrow to sass. In addition, Carder’s beautiful voice is able to sail effortlessly into those sweet upper registers. But the real magic happens when their voices intertwine. Whether in a duet (there are a couple on this album) or in harmony, the result is incredibly satisfying.

The songs themselves are characterized by engaging melodies and lyrics that are rich in rhyme, rhythm and wordplay. Above all, they are largely upbeat. This is immediately apparent from the first second of the first track, Baby, I’m in Love with You, as it bursts into sound with Glenn’s fiddle at full-speed, soon to be joined by Brown’s no-nonsense pounding rhythm. It really does feel like you are being taken on an exciting, wild ride by these Show Ponies.

Gone evokes a darker, more haunting mood – along with some good old-fashioned country angst – as Carder sings the classic lament of the betrayed young woman, abandoned by her lying lover. The song has a powerful Appalachian flavor underscored by the fiddle, old-time harmonies, harmonica, lots of body percussion, and a heavy, foot-stomping beat.

The title track – which is really, in its entirety, We’re Not Lost; We Just don’t Know Where To Go – provides a fitting theme for the album as it recounts the dilemma of today’s younger generation. I believe its contemporary theme is bound to resonate with a lot of people. But here again, the deeper, heartfelt meaning in this song does not stop it from being a fast-paced beauty, complete with a dancing fiddle and prancing banjo break.

Show PoniesAnd then there is the duet that, I’m willing to bet, is one of the most popular songs in their repertoire. It’s Whiskey and Wine, a non-stop fun song built around the old saying, “opposites attract.” At least, one of the opposites in this song is attracted to the other. His “other” articulates nothing but contempt for him…which leads to some very funny lyrics. And when Chaney introduces a verse saying, “Call me stupid…”, the entire band chimes in, “Yes, you are!” The timing is perfect. And, on top of all this humor, there is a great guitar break, too.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are also some very tender, touching songs on this album. My personal favorite, Pieces of the Past, is a song of reminiscence, loss, and the forgiveness that comes with moving on with your life.

We’re Not Lost ends on a spiritual note with two songs. Track 10, The River, has an “evangelical, old-time religion” feel to it, juxtaposing Carder’s beautiful vocals as she sings, “Life begins today” against a bare-bones fiddle, and then the heavy heartbeat of the drum. And the last track, I Regress, begins as a delicate duet with a finger-picking guitar and violin…and then builds with drum and harmony...to end with a prayer: “Oh (Lord) draw me near or I regress.”

Lest I digress, I will rein in my descriptions to simply conclude: this is a very, very good album….one well-worth checking out if you haven’t already heard or seen The Show Ponies.

A New York transplant to the tiny town of Carpinteria, CA, Jackie is a freelance writer by profession and a singer-songwriter by passion. Her newly-released third album of original Folk/Americana songs was among Top Folk Albums of 2011 on the Folk Music Radio Airplay Charts. Jackie is also an active member in such acoustic music communities as SummerSongs, SongMakers, and FARWest Folk Alliance.