Doug Keith certainly seems to know what a good collaboration looks like, most notably as Sharon Van Etten’s traveling guitarist and bassist. But on his third solo album, Pony, Keith is the one at the forefront with his own group of collaborators for a shimmering and comfortable folk-rock record.
With the help of musicians like Brad and Phill Cook from Megafaun and Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis, Keith eases listeners into congenial rhythms, but will not provoke a burning desire to hear more. Keith’s smooth vocals and light acoustics give a golden glow in the opener “Harvest Home,” but the light fades as the albums progresses.
While each song holds its own potential, individual tracks are hardly discernible from the nine-song collection. Mascis elevates the single “Pure Gold in the 70’s” with an explosive guitar accompaniment.
The album may glitter with these standouts, but the glitter does not stick for long and can easily be brushed off of listeners.
Pony has a grassroots grit that gives it a grounded folk undercoating, yet is polished on the outside. But the record doesn’t step far outside these bounds.
Pony is well-crafted and consistently enjoyable, but this pony is not a horse —right now, it’s still a miniature version of what could be a stallion of folk rock.
— Charlie Shelton
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