The saying goes that too many cooks can spoil a broth, but this is definitely not the case when speaking about The Horse Puppets. Originally performing as The Retrosettes, the seven-piece group began performing as The Horse Puppets in 2019. Recording all their music at a purpose-built home studio, the Manchester-based lads and ladies have worked on several singles and their debut full-length album. In June 2020, Paul Bytheway (vocals, guitar and synths), Helen Bytheway (vocals and piano), Amy Eckersley (vocals and violin), Andrzej Baranek (piano, organ and synths), Tommy Fuller (electric and upright bass), Rick Weedon (drums and vocals) and Chris Hillman (pedal steel and dobro guitar) released the 10-track Sorry For The Inconvenience.
Incorporating steel guitar, violin, synths and the organ with the more ‘traditional’ guitar, bass and drums, The Horse Puppets have achieved a sound somewhere between Arctic Monkeys, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and The Muddy Blues Band. One may think that this indie/blues/folk fusion could be an assault on the senses, but The Horse Puppets seamlessly flow through the genres. Smooth, steady, melodic and enchanting are the best words to describe Sorry For The Inconvenience.
From the bluesy opening track ‘Who Are You (Don’t Look At Me Now)’ to the folk-driven ‘Which Way To Go’ and soulful ‘People From The Sun’, Sorry For The Inconvenience is an emotional journey through diverse music styles. It’s difficult to choose a single track to mark as my favourite, but I think it’s a battle between the more rock-oriented ‘Caught You Out’ or jazzy ‘Rosie Rosie’. While Paul Bytheway’s rich vocals are noteworthy, I think Helen pips him at the post with her throaty tones reminiscent of Stevie Nicks. The vocals on the catchy, upbeat ‘Open Your Eyes’ is enough to have anyone grooving to the music.
From their steel guitar with pedal loops to the organ and violin, The Horse Puppets demonstrate how too many cooks can sometimes be a good thing. Listening to their album, singles and even watching homemade videos, The Horse Puppets are something unique and exciting. We have to agree with Mike Sweeney (BBC Radio) when he says The Horse Puppets is a ‘line-up that you’ve not heard before and it sounds great!’ I have only just sampled their debut album and cannot wait for the next one.