DC-based indie-rock artist Horseshoes, aka Austin Greaves, has released his highly-anticipated album Black Snow, which delves deep into the themes of authenticity, honesty, and the challenge of remaining true to oneself amidst life’s uncertainties. The 10-track album is a compelling exploration of the internal struggle that many of us face – the battle between staying authentic to our true selves and succumbing to the pressure of conforming to societal expectations. Horseshoes take listeners on a thought-provoking journey, inviting them to question their own authenticity and self-awareness.
One significant influence on the creation of Black Snow was the birth of Horseshoes’ daughter. This life-changing event inspired him to strive for a truer and more pure perspective, resulting in a more playful and open musical approach. The album encapsulates the artist’s willingness to step out of his comfort zone and experiment with new sounds and melodies. The instrumentation behind the tracks effortlessly blends various indie-rock and Americana influences, drawing inspiration from artists like Elliott Smith, Alex G, Sufjan Stevens, and Wilco.
A powerful addition to his discography, Horseshoes was eager to sit down and give us more insight into the inspirations and stories behind the songs for V13’s newest installment of the Track-by-Track series.
“I grew up in LA. It was a confusing place to be raised because there was this vibe that, because of the undeniably amazing weather, everything was great all the time, even when it didn’t quite feel that way. I chose this song to start off the album because I wanted to share this confusion with the listener with the opening line, ‘depression in the sun,’ which is delivered amidst a sonically up-tempo soundscape. I think that can be a pretty core piece of depression sometimes when other people around you seem to be doing much better than you are.”
2. “Say What You Mean”
“This song taps into a desire to connect with others in a more authentic way (a feeling I predictably experienced a lot as a child growing up in LA). I think I used to blame others for this lack of connection, thinking that if everybody wasn’t so fake all the time, hanging out would be a much more pleasant experience. However, I realized eventually that I also play a role in this dynamic, which I conveyed with the lyric, ‘But I never see anybody else because I’m always thinking about myself.’ So I think this song kinda alludes to the idea that there are often difficulties to connecting in a relationship on both sides.”
3. “Too Scared”
“This song explores a sense of uncertainty in knowing who you are and where you want to be. There might be a connection here to the idea that if you don’t allow yourself to feel your emotions, you’ll end up being confused and directionless with the lyric, ‘Is it too late to fall apart? You’ve already broken my heart.’ This is my most red-dirt country song on the album, and I’m happy the album got a bit of this vibe which was much more present on my first album.”
4. “Hide and Seek”
“This song is for sure about abandonment. I wrote this song after playing with my daughter so I think the lyrics and arrangement of the song took on a more primitive or playful feel. I wrote and recorded this song very quickly because I wanted it to feel more impulsive. There is another reference to the idea of not being honest with yourself about your true feelings with the lyric, ‘close your eyes and try to pretend you’re fine.’”
“‘Dreaming’ again taps into the feeling of having difficulty connecting with somebody you care about. There is a thought I had when writing the song about how intimate it is to sleep next to somebody at night. Dreaming is such a mysterious place, and there is something sort of bonding about drifting off into that abyss every night next to somebody else who is doing the exact same thing.”
6. “Black Snow”
“So this is the title track of the album, which I considered making the first song on the album until a friend told me that although he liked the song, maybe it was a little too weird to be song number one. I think he had a good point – maybe some listeners wouldn’t give the rest of the album a chance after this free-fall into a dysphoric hell-scape. That being said, I still really love the post-apocalyptic feel of this song, which I think sort of captures what this album is really about: how to move forward amidst loss, and while we are constantly changing. This song also kicks off the back half of the album into a more abstract and dreamlike direction.”
7. “The Sacrifice”
“This is totally about the vibe of being attracted to somebody who you know deep down probably isn’t good for you. There can be this crazy paradox with being really attracted or turned on by someone or something that you also know will probably bring you pain.”
“The song explores grief and loss, I think. There is a longing in this song of wanting more clarity from somebody who has left you, but also an understanding that getting this clarity is often times impossible. This is captured by the closing lyrics, ‘If you could have told me what it means, I guess that I wouldn’t be.’”
9. “Dodo Song”
“I attempted to write this song from my daughter’s point of view. As I was writing it, I realized that what she really wants is totally the same as what I want – to be understood, loved, and to eat some really good food. This album was recorded in my home studio (which is right next to my kitchen). As I was recording the song, she was talking in the background, and I realized I really wanted her voice to be in the song. I sort of threw a bunch of snippets of her talking randomly together, and my sound engineer, Curtis Fye, did an amazing job of piecing it all together. The result is a time capsule I will have of my daughter at this young amazing age, which I will always cherish.”
10. “Santa Cruz”
“Santa Cruz is where I went to college – an amazing place to live for four years and one of the most beautiful places on earth. This song taps into that recurring theme of loss within this idyllic backdrop. There is a weird thing that sometimes happens in relationships where you love somebody but also know it is time for the relationship to end. There is a sadness about this but also a mutual understanding that letting each other go is what is needed to truly care for the other. I thought this would be a cool way to end the album.”