Tinged in melancholy but teetering towards hope, Horseshoes’ Desert is a collection of thoughtful reflections from singer-songwriter Austin Greaves. Utilizing folk-style arrangements, the Washington D.C.-based artist encapsulates his thoughts on everything from grief and substance abuse to the complications which come with falling in love. “The album is about loss and new beginnings,” he explains. “Coming to terms with the past and considering the future.”
In this way, Desert feels like a diary of sorts, in which Greaves finds himself pondering questions and seeking to answer them through his music. The lyrics and production work symbiotically to capture the emotions that Greaves sifts through and picks apart across the 9-track record. Wavering between light and dark, hope and defeat, Greaves’ ruminations symbolize reflecting on past memories and then moving forward from them.
“Near Sided Vision” the album’s opener, sets the tone for the record by pondering what it would be like to move away. “Near-sided vision, squinting at myself from afar,” he sings. Then, on the deceptively upbeat track, “Euphoria at Dawn,” Greaves details how he’s grown beyond his dark party days and evolved from that treacherous lifestyle. “When I start living that life again, I get dragged back in. I lose control,” he admits. Digging into what it was like encountering love, fearing it and then eventually losing it, Greaves uses Desert to air his grievances with commendable candidness.
On “Haunted House,” the folk artist brings in an intriguing and disjointed guitar riff which seems to mirror the discomfort Greaves is feeling in the song as he needs time to “notify the ghost in [his] mind” and “rectify your haunted house is doing fine.” Then on “Oakwood Terrace,” the line “come to me, in my dreams” is repeated and builds to an evocative crescendo of newfound empowerment. The most poignant on the album is the album’s closer, “Curled Inside Out,” as Greaves croons longingly: “I’m close to you right now, but my body is curled inside out. Holding on to what I won’t allow. And I’m lying in the dark with nothing to do. I’m lying in the dark without you.” Expressing his thoughts openly, Desert doesn’t attempt to hide from the past. Instead, Greaves illuminates the dark in order to make way for the future.