Bonny Light Horseman is a new indie-folk supergroup bringing together Anaïs Mitchell of Hadestown fame, Fruit Bats leader Eric Johnson, and longtime ace sideman Josh Kaufman (known for his work with Craig Finn, Josh Ritter, Bob Weir, and the National among others). The band debuted at this year’s Newport Folk Festival, and on the last day of July, they shared their debut single, also called “Bonny Light Horseman.” Today, they’ve got one more eponymous affair to announce.
Debut album Bonny Light Horseman will be out in January via 37d03d Records, a new offshoot of Justin Vernon and the Dessner brothers’ collective of the same name. The project actually played its first show at the 2018 Eaux Claires festival, where many of the performances involved putting new alignments of musicians together onstage for the first time. The 37d03d braintrust continued to spur Mitchell, Johnson, and Kaufman’s work together by inviting them to record at their highly collaborative 2018 event in Berlin, from which Bonny Light Horseman reportedly emerged with 60% of an album. It’s done now, and it includes contributions from many 37d03d cohorts including Vernon and Aaron Dessner themselves plus the Staves, Kate Stables, Christian Lee Hutson, and Lisa Hannigan. Holding down a more consistent role with the project are Michael Lewis (bass, saxophone) and JT Bates (drums, percussion).
The premise of the Bonny Light Horseman project involves putting a new spin on traditional folk songs from the British Isles. Today we hear the second example of that, which also happens to be the album’s second song. “Deep In Love” began as “a Fruit Bats sketch,” the band explains in a statement, “until Kaufman recognized its uncanny (and unplanned) similarity to a traditional tune by that name (it shares some lyrics with ‘Waly Waly’ / ‘The Water Is Wide’). What you hear is the first and only take of the song, recorded in the wee hours of a midwinter’s night at Dreamland Studio in Woodstock, NY.”
01 “Bonny Light Horseman”
02 “Deep In Love”
03 “The Roving”
04 “Jane Jane”
06 “Magpie’s Nest”
08 “Mountain Rain”
09 “Bright Morning Stars”
10 “10,000 Mile”
Bonny Light Horseman is out 1/24 via 37d03d Records. Pre-order it here.