The short version is that Racing Heart play indie folk, but try instead to imagine the earnest yearnings of American golden era pop music, the earthiness of the English folk revival and the searching spirit of contemporary Scandinavian indie rock, and you’ll have a better idea of what the music sounds like. These are ten songs that set out to accomplish something, finding themselves somewhere in the soundscapes that many of today’s Brooklyn-based bands are busy exploring, with lush vocal harmonies that lead your thoughts (and your ears) to the 1960’s and 70’s.
To Walk Beside that Ghost was in fact written and recorded by Racing Heart in just Brooklyn, with members from St. Vincent and Sufjan Stevens’ bands joining them in the studio. Centered on the soft acoustics of voice, finger- picked guitar, autoharp, upright bass and drums, but embellished and expanded upon by both analogue synthesizers, a string quartet and brass trio (the stated goal always being that each sound must serve the song and not just act as decoration) this album carries with it inspiration from many different musical decades.
Oslo transplant and prime creative force Mathias Tjønn's distant muse feels just as irrevocably lost as Justin Vernon's, though the elaborate wash of harmonies more closely recalls Grizzly Bear, Local Natives, or even Maps & Atlases. There's an intricate allure in the interplay between Racing Hearts' rippling auto-harp, precisely shaded drumming, and queasy analogue synths.
A staggeringly majestic folk album informed as much by classical baroque as ’70s AM gold, Nick Drake, and harmonious contemporaries like Grizzly Bear and Bon Iver.
-The A.V. Club